January 6, 2022
Actor Emily Hampshire joins Jameela this week to discuss how she’s so different from her beloved character “Stevie” from Schitt’s Creek, her mental health journey, what a game changer depression medication was for her, how her first diet was a “gateway drug” for her, and how exploring her sexuality helped her love her own body more.
You can listen to Emily on the new podcast The Beautiful Liar wherever you get your podcasts
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
Jameela is on Instagram and Twitter @jameelajamil
92 — Emily Hampshire
Jameela [00:00:00] Oh, hello, and welcome to another episode of I Weigh. How are you? I’m fine. I’m just it’s sort of just so shit that it’s crossed the threshold of what is acceptable. And now I’ve kind of surrendered to it, and I’ve acknowledged that January just doesn’t count. It’s just January is off it’s off. It’s starting again in February or March. After this, this tsunami of nonsense is, I don’t know, passes its peak. And so at least we have the tools we’ve done this before. It’s really fucking annoying that we’ve done this before, and it does feel a little bit deja vu-ey. But it’s not the same. It’s it’s it’s milder and it’s a bit less scary. It’s a bit less new, and we 100 percent know what to do now. It’s just I’m sorry, I’m sorry if it’s fucking with your New Year’s vibe. I’m with you. I feel you. But let’s just write off the month, and I feel like my job is to just for the rest of this month, try to take your mind off things, try to elevate the vibe. Just try to cheer you up. We’ll make you feel less alone because I need you. And so I feel like we can do this together. My guest, I think, is the perfect vibe for the top of the year. She’s just a fucking ray of sunshine. I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of Schitt’s Creek. Huge, huge fan. Super fan. I kind of found it last year, I think, and binge watched the entire thing. And now I’m back on my sort of second time around watching it. And one of the characters in it is Emily Hampshire, who plays Stevie. She’s so funny and smart and cool in the show, but plays a character that is so different to who she actually is. In the show she’s very cold and aloof and has a very kind of dark sense of humor, very like witty and sarcastic and and someone that you don’t feel like you could necessarily easily become friends with because she wouldn’t accept you. However, the real Emily is the complete opposite of that. She’s just a fucking Labrador. She’s a ball of love and openness and joy and hope. And and she was just so refreshing and unpretentious and kind in this conversation that I had with her. I felt very lucky to meet her and very surprised as to what a great actor she must be because of how night and day of the character versus the woman are. In this episode, we go deep with Emily. We talk at length about her mental health journey and how, for a long time, she didn’t even know she was depressed. She thought that was just the norm, which I think a lot of us can resonate with. We talk about medication and what a game changer it was for her. Emily literally describes it as a cloud lifting. We talk about her relationship with her body and how problematic being in the public eye has been for her body, and she talks about diets and how her first diet was a gateway drug. We discuss exploring sexuality and how doing that helped her be able to love her own body more, which I thought was such a fascinating perspective, and she just doesn’t hold back. She just wants to love and share in a way that I feel like we need right now. We need more of Emily’s energy for the new year. We need openness, we need connection, we need community. And she’s just, I think, a little bit of an icon for that. And if you fall in love with Emily in this episode, or if you already love her from Schitt’s Creek, she is in a new scripted podcast called The Beautiful Liar, which is out now. It’s a superhero origin story which serves as a companion piece to the X Ambassadors third studio album, also titled The Beautiful Liar. There are new episodes of that podcast every Wednesday, so definitely go and give it a listen because she’s amazing in everything she does. But for now, sit back, relax and enjoy meeting your new best friend, Emily Hampshire. Emily Bloody, Hampshire. Welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
Emily [00:04:12] I’m good, thank you. I feel bad for you.
Jameela [00:04:16] Oh, because I have such a sexy voice right now.
Emily [00:04:19] Exactly yes.
Jameela [00:04:20] I know, I know, I know it’s it’s actually unfair on you, because how are you supposed to concentrate when I say this? I love. I love a sick voice. I love it. I totally identify with Phoebe in Friends., where she just can’t get over her singing voice. I want to record an album right now.
Emily [00:04:37] Yeah hilarious.
Jameela [00:04:38] It’s so lovely to see you, and I’m so excited for everyone to get to experience you. Because when we spoke on the phone sounds, it sounds like a backhanded compliment. It’s not. When we spoke on the phone, I was so stunned by how different you are in person to your character. Because when, like when I first thought about interviewing you, I was a little bit intimidated. I was like, No, she’s going to be.
Emily [00:05:05] Really?
Jameela [00:05:06] Mean and cool.
Emily [00:05:08] That’s hilarious.
Jameela [00:05:08] And actually you’re not cool and you’re not mean. You’re just wonderful.
Emily [00:05:11] I’m not cool at all. And I feel like when people see me on the street and they’re like, Stevie, I get more excited than them. And then they’re freaked out. Like, because, you know, Stevie wouldn’t be like that excited. So, yeah, I’m regularly told that I am nothing like Stevie, and people are really shocked about it, especially on a date or something.
Jameela [00:05:34] I mean, because it means that then you’re such a great actor. Do you know what I mean? Like no one, no one can just say that you’re playing yourself.
Emily [00:05:41] Yeah yeah we’ll go with that. True.
Jameela [00:05:41] I think that shows that you’re you have such a talent. And I think when someone can be so the polar opposite from themselves, it’s just chef’s kiss. Everything you want as a fan.
Emily [00:05:51] I became an actor so I wouldn’t have to be myself. And Stevie is like the greatest vacation from myself. Like to get to be Stevie sitting behind the desk, being that confident and cool. That’s great. I could live there for a while.
Jameela [00:06:05] You’ve been so open about your mental health as a public figure. And I wonder, like, how does that make you feel? Does that make you feel when you are going into public situations and people know who you are, they now know a bit more of your business? Does that help you cut to the chase more or does that make you feel nervous and exposed?
Emily [00:06:26] Well, just when you said that, I just felt like, Oh my God, have I been? Have I been so public about my mental health? But I guess I guess the truth is that. If I’m going to have a conversation, I will either just not have that conversation publicly or I have to have the real, the real honest conversation just because I I feel uncomfortable with myself if I’m making shit up. But that’s, I think, one of the great things that Covid this is terrible to say. But like, you know, I know COVID is horrible, but what it did good for me in a way was force everybody to be a little realer, like everybody was themselves in their house with no makeup. And I think a lot of people got honest about mental health stuff. And that to me, when I, when I benefit from it, from somebody else being open about it, then I see how that is a good thing that if I am open about it, then maybe somebody else can be like, Oh, I’m weird like that too. And I’m not like, it doesn’t have to be so shameful.
Jameela [00:07:40] And by the way, I mean, I didn’t mean that you’re like this sort of like rampant oversharer. I just meant that in some, like high profile interviews, you’ve been very, very candid about your life and your mental health and I think that’s really beautiful.
Emily [00:07:50] Well I am a super oversharer. So I had decided not to do podcasts anymore because friends of mine all got podcasts and would ask me to go on them and I’d go on. And since I’m talking to a friend, I would just be really myself. And then I had such huge regret and and I decided not to do any podcasts until our mutual friend Demi had asked me to be on their show. And I at first said I couldn’t because they knew me in a way that I would have to be honest, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to talk about those issues and stuff. But then I thought about it a little more and listened to their podcast and was so inspired by the other people they had on, that I felt like it was just something I needed to do. I’m glad I did.
Jameela [00:08:45] And how did it yeah I was going to say, how does it feel now that you’ve kind of done that because Demi’s got a following of like a hundred million people. That’s not a small listenership.
Emily [00:08:54] No, it’s not. Which was why initially I was like, No fucking way. But honestly, it’s it felt really. That sounds kind of hokey, but it like it felt really good to give back in a way that I feel like Demi did for me when I didn’t even know them. When Demi would be open about their eating disorder and and not not the glamorous, which is a horrible thing to say. But like, I think when some people are really sick in an eating disorder, you start to think there’s there’s something glamorous or good about starving yourself and you feel like, I don’t know. I always felt like being, I see I even have trouble saying the word still, but like being bulimic was something that was so shameful. And then to hear Demi talk about all the things I thought were, like, so embarrassing made me feel like not a little less shameful.
Jameela [00:10:06] Yeah, I said that to them when they came on my podcast, because Demi was, I think, like the first major, major celebrity I’d seen speak out about these things and they were only like 16. The first time they first talked about their eating disorder in Disney. And since then, they’ve gone on to be open about addiction and all these different things. And look, many people have many different opinions about Demi Lovato, but no one can take away the fact that they put themselves out there in the name of their like in service of their fans in order to be able to make people feel less alone in the way that they felt alone as a kid. And I think that that’s massively honorable and there was no template. There was no handbook for how to do that perfectly. Especially not when you’re, you know, at the time they’re identifying as a woman. So a young woman in the public eye is daring to be this outspoken and honest and brazen and criticizing the very industry that they’re in, it was. It was unbelievable. It was unbelievable. And so I think that it’s a difficult, you know, terrain to traverse. As I’ve also learned and I I massively admire the fact that they keep going, and I definitely look to them as a big inspiration. I do want to talk to you about lots of different things, including eating disorders generally. How would you say your mental health has been your whole life?
Emily [00:11:26] Wow.
Jameela [00:11:26] It’s a tiny question, just sort of very surface level.
Emily [00:11:28] It’s a tiny tiny question. I guess. I can it’s funny because mental health stuff, I think when I was growing up, there was no, no language for it, really. And I know I know that the first time I got really depressed, I didn’t know I was depressed. I was just I thought that was normal, that that nothing impressed me like and that I couldn’t think. And I just actual like physical symptoms of depression that I had no idea what was wrong with me because that was my normal. And then when I went on some medication and got out of that, I was like, Oh my God, this is how I could have been living. And I’ve had different stages of that feeling of like, you know, getting into kind of a rut in certain ways and then doing therapy or doing whatever I needed to kind of get better. And each time it’s been like, Oh my God, I can’t believe I lived like that for so long, but I am a silver linings person. I do think struggles like that serve you. I think one of the hardest things I ever went through was the ultimately the best thing. It made me get back to who I was. So, yeah, I don’t think I answered your question at all.
Jameela [00:13:04] No, but you did. I also have a follow up question, which is you talked about thinking it was normal to feel, I don’t know, unimpressed by everything. Was any of that perpetuated by our media and our culture? You know what I mean? Like the word cool, quote unquote was very much so associated with a leather jacket, a cigarette like not really smiling, not really laughing, not putting yourself out there. Was any of that perpetuated because I’m English, you’re Canadian. So like, obviously, I have like a huge racist stereotype about how happy and peaceful and wonderful you are because I just I just.
Emily [00:13:40] Really because we’re always, we’re so sorry.
Jameela [00:13:42] No, no, no, no. The stereotype exactly about Canadians is deeply apologetic, humble, kind, lovely, funny. But I’m English and we don’t have that reputation, and it was definitely considered, especially as I was like emerging through my teens and 20s to not be impressed by anything. It was considered very embarrassing to show any happiness, and then I feel like we came out of that in the 2010s and the word gratitude started being used more often. But tell me what you think about this. I feel like in spite of the rise of wellness culture, we are seeing a return of that unimpressed disassociated esthetic.
Emily [00:14:22] Wow, that is so interesting because I’ve never thought of that until right now. And you’re right, there was that because the minute you said, you know, when the word gratitude started happening, that was a movement. That was that change. And it’s kind of what I remember of culture when I was growing up that that did also lend itself to that was the kind of Kate Moss heroin chic like that kind of dead inside was was what you wanted to achieve. And and that I think God, I can’t stop thinking about how right you are. That’s really so true that even happiness and joy and gratitude, that’s a new
Jameela [00:15:11] It was considered annoying. It was considered annoying for a really long time. And I’m worried that we’re going through that cycle again. You know, I said this before on the podcast, I’ve seen a new make up trend of putting dark makeup underneath your eyes to make yourself look like you haven’t slept like you know that you’re ill or tired or depressed. And I’m like, This is fucking really fucked, in my opinion.
Emily [00:15:33] Wow that’s so interesting.
Jameela [00:15:33] Because it reminds me of heroin chic. It just feels like it’s a cycle. It’s just bullshit all over again, where we are discouraging people from being happy for a commercial purpose. Because happy people buy less unhappy people buy more. So if we convince people to be like, Oh, nothing impresses me, nothing’s enough and we keep raising their ceiling on what will make them happy then I thought raising the bar rather for what’s going to make them happy, then they’ll just keep buying and buying and consuming and never really just stopping to enjoy the moment or the thing or the feeling. You know what I mean, I feel a lot of missed our depression because it was so encouraged that behavior.
Emily [00:16:11] Yeah. God, this is blowing my mind. But I do think that things do go in cycles, and I do think the pendulum always swings too far in one direction to go back into the other direction. And especially with, I think people maybe got over. There was so much of wellness culture that it became a little like phony.
Jameela [00:16:35] Toxic positivity.
Emily [00:16:36] Yes, yes, yes. So I can see how that pendulum is swinging back to that, which also worries me about like the cancel culture. I think I think it’s going to swing back in in a different way. People are going to get fed up with stuff. And yeah, but I’m still mind blown by by what you just said because it’s so true. It’s so true. It it does even leak into makeup.
Jameela [00:17:03] It’s I mean it. It really does. And fashion. And so tell me, how old were you when you first found medication and therapy?
Emily [00:17:13] Oh gosh, I. Well, I actually was I was sent to a to a therapist from my school, and I can’t even really remember why, but I think I think there was just a lot of my childhood that felt a bit like, well, my brother always got in trouble and my brother was like, needed a lot of attention. And I just sometimes was naturally good at stuff. But I I definitely felt like I had to squish that and pretend I wasn’t I. I remember in, you know, high school when I would get the lead in the play and then I’d get it again the next year and then everybody hated me. And so I think what I learned from that that I am now trying to change is is to shrink myself and and never kind of. Let I’m afraid that if I am as good as I could be or even think that that everyone will hate me, and that’s
Jameela [00:18:29] That’s so interesting, that’s so interesting. So was that shit at school to have people turn on you for something that you just naturally and very innocently gone up for that you happened to get?
Emily [00:18:38] Oh yeah, but I didn’t realize it at that. It’s it’s like in retrospect, I can see it all very clearly. But at the time, I didn’t know why everybody just didn’t like me anymore suddenly. And I think I think it made me overcompensate in a lot of ways, I became really funny. I wasn’t funny before that, I became very much. Well I do always think that comedy is kind of the cry of the powerless and you.
Jameela [00:19:14] That’s a great sentence.
Emily [00:19:15] I do think that that’s in my hardest moments is when I found comedy. I I remember I did a movie with Catherine O’Hara and I was playing a quote unquote fat actress at the time, and I was was bigger then. And before that, I always got like the pretty girl and the girlfriend and and I remember thinking, Oh, well, now I have to be funny. And I was funny in that, and it was a character part. But it’s so crazy that that’s the thinking. I feel like mental health stuff has kind of always existed in me, even in my most productive times. Like I know I. I’m definitely a workaholic. I feel it. I mean, everybody around me can tell that I have put a lot of things that I don’t want to deal with in life into. I’m just going to keep working. I was going to work.
Jameela [00:20:18] I think I think a lot of that. I think a lot of this generation relates to that. And again, it’s something that we’ve been socially normalized and encouraged to do.
Emily [00:20:26] Yeah. Be productive.
Jameela [00:20:27] Exactly. We’ve had 10 years of having that terrible word Girlboss shoved up our asses and down our throats at the same time. So wait, what age were you when you found the medication?
Emily [00:20:39] Oh, so I was. I think I was like 19, 20 when when I went on antidepressants for the first time and I was scared as because it was a long time ago and it wasn’t as in the culture as it is now, and I was really worried, especially as an artist, that it would like make me not creative anymore. And it would. But I wasn’t being creative. I wasn’t getting out of bed. So I was around 20 and and that did that was one of the things that did change my life for that period of time. I think if I hadn’t had that, I don’t know what would have happened.
Jameela [00:21:31] I think it’s amazing that at that time you’re you also had like family, I guess, who would have encouraged you towards it or no, that was really just you?
Emily [00:21:42] No, it was my doctor. It was honestly like national health care.
Jameela [00:21:47] That’s great, It was amazing. It’s so rare. Like, I didn’t find I didn’t find that kind of guidance until it was almost too late for me. So I always feel really happy when I hear about someone young finding it early in life. And can I ask you what that felt like to come out of the depression and and to be on the drugs finally? Because I think a lot of people share your fear that they will become numb and disassociated, and I’m sure there are some drugs that can do that, but not all drugs. And I think that they’ve been stigmatized by that information. I would love to hear like the positive impact that that the drugs had on you.
Emily [00:22:22] Well, I I do think it is stigmatized in that way, especially for creatives, because I think there’s been this narrative that like to be a great artist, you have to be crazy. And I don’t think that’s true, at least for me personally. I have became a better actor, a more productive person, a more inspired person because I could. It felt like I got back to myself again, and I didn’t even know I’d lost it. It was kind of like I. So I used to smoke a lot, and I remember when I quit smoking, that was when I realized how, like, oh, I was, I was out of breath all the time before my throat was always hurting. But I never knew that until I stopped it. I thought that was normal to always feel like to have a constant cough. I thought that was normal. You get used to where you’re at and you build a tolerance and you forget that. You forget what good normal can feel like.
Jameela [00:23:32] Yeah, absolutely. I also love the comparison between quitting cigarettes and and getting past depression because food tastes different when you stop smoking. I’ve heard. And it’s the same way I feel for mental health like food, taste different and sunsets look different and sex feels different, like everything feels different when you out of that haze. And so that’s a great analogy.
Emily [00:23:58] I did feel a literal kind of cloud lift like I know that sounds like an advertisement you see for drugs with the little stick figure getting the cloud. But it did to me feel like I was living on this plane where I could only kind of see in this narrow, narrow way. And then all of a sudden my world expanded. Like when I got glasses for the first time, I was like, Whoa, there’s all this world. It’s one of those things that, yeah, but it did take me a little bit to find the right medication. There is that like I, I went on some that didn’t work. And I think that’s a hard thing sometimes, too, because when you are depressed, if something doesn’t work right away but actually makes you feel worse and you were nervous to get the medication to begin with. I think it’s it’s helpful to know that it does take. It’s like finding the right therapist. Sometimes you have to go through a few and it’s hard because you have to tell your whole life story again. But it’s worth it, I think. And for me, the medication helped me do therapy. It wasn’t a replacement for it. It was I couldn’t even formulate a sentence and to be able to then express myself and do therapy. And I think therapy completely changed me in many stages of my life, but I couldn’t have done it without the initial medication. For me personally.
Jameela [00:25:32] It’s I mean, it’s something that we talk about a lot on this podcast is the fact that I, you know, I used to think that therapy would mean that I was treating the symptom and not the cause. But sometimes you have to quiet down the symptoms so that you can even find the fucking cause. You know, it’s just like stopping the bleeding so you can actually operate. And I think that that’s really, really important. I would love to talk to you if you feel comfortable still about your your journey with your body, because I also think that falls under mental health and I wonder if the smoking was anything to do with that, but I would love to talk to you about like how old you are when you first started to become aware of your body.
Emily [00:26:17] I remember the first I remember very viscerally the first diet I ever went on. I I can see the torn out page from the magazine and it was like.
Jameela [00:26:28] How old were you?
Emily [00:26:28] I think I was 12. I think I was 12 around then I was in high school, in high school. For us in Montreal is grade seven, so we started at grade seven.
Jameela [00:26:41] Let’s both. Let’s both be careful to not say what that diet was, just so that we don’t end up triggering someone or giving them any tips.
Emily [00:26:48] Yes. No, no, no.
Jameela [00:26:49] You and I, you and I are around the same age. And so we would have both come up around the time of just only having diets bombarded at us, like very, very specific diets, crazy low calorie counts like unsustainably low. And we were talking about this over the phone. Like, I remember seeing this this massive interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, where she was talking about the fact that she eats naked in front of the mirror in order to watch herself bloat so that she would, I think, maybe slow down her. She wouldn’t overeat. And, and that was I feel safe telling other people about because I just feel like that’s a very illegal thing to do at restaurants. So therefore, I’m not worried that any of you are going to take this on. It’s very antisocial behavior, but that was like sold to us as like, Oh, you should do that. So I feel like around that time, loads of people just just got their got their fannies out and just started having a, you know, having a bowl of rice in front of their mirror. It was so odd the lengths that women were encouraged to go to for thinness.
Emily [00:27:51] It was thought of also as like that you are, there was something about being disciplined, like, and that if you could really stick to a diet and if you couldn’t, then then you weren’t. I mean, successful. It was like that kind of was ingrained in your head that you had to do it right.
Jameela [00:28:11] Fuck that’s so true. I remember being at like a lunch, and if I would have a salad people would be like, oh my god, you’re so good. Like they would congratulate me for my this quote unquote discipline, whereas I just wanted to fucking salad. But but then I would feel like, Oh, I’m so good. Whereas really, I was just so sad because I wanted the cake and the pizza as well. But I I remember that congratulations culture around maintaining eating disorders. They weren’t just hyper normalized, they were hyper glamorized. And, and it was. It was a really dangerous time. So wait, so how old were you? Remind me.
Emily [00:28:47] So my first diet, I would say I was 12. And and I do think it is kind of for me, at least like a gateway drug. It’s like a once I went on my first diet, I just often have this thought like if I could go back and not do that one diet and I feel like, wow, I could be someone who orders a salad because I want to. I could be someone who doesn’t have a zillion thoughts about what I’m eating, what other people are seeing me eat. I remember it was very much because I was an I started to become a professional actor then too, and everything was, you know about that. I remember I would be in a party with my then agent at the time, and I would make the joke of if he saw me having a cupcake. I’d be like, Oh, don’t worry, I’m just going to throw it up. And it was like funny, but it was true.
Jameela [00:29:56] Yeah, fuck. And so bulimia started around your teens.
Emily [00:30:02] Yeah, yeah. I think it was. I I think what I know got me very depressed was all the initial dieting and diet pills and depleting my brain so much that, you know, when you’re that malnourished, you can’t think. And I got very depressed from that. And then when I did get better medication wise, I think I and I felt so much shame that I could no longer control my eating like I used to. And that felt like a problem to me. And then I heard Demi Lovato talking, and it made me feel better.
Jameela [00:30:55] That’s so important and amazing. I’m so happy that you have been on a journey to recovery, but it’s definitely been a fuckin process because of the industry that you’re in, having worked from such a young age. I mean, you talked about this one job where you showed up for the first season, everything was great. And then for season two, you came back and this time you were thinner. And I don’t know whether or not that was deliberate or not, but you were met with, like, high praise.
Emily [00:31:21] Oh yeah, and it was it was very deliberate. I was very sick. I was, I mean, very sick. And and all the costume department was like, Oh, we can put you in cute things now. And everybody was like, so complimentary. Except for this one actress who is on the show. She was an older act. I mean, older, then she was probably younger than I am now. But I was a kid and she called me one day and was like, I just want to check in with you. I like I feel like there might be something going on with your eating and stuff, and I was so paranoid. Then I thought she was like, the devil. Like trying to.
Jameela [00:32:07] Make you bigger. To sabotage you. Fuck me.
Emily [00:32:07] Yeah. Totally and like some kind of voodoo mind, like she was trying to get information like, That’s how crazy sick I. I was that I. And now I look back and I’m like, Wow, I can’t believe she reached out like that. That is so like to be able to do that. I mean, I think it was helpful that I was a kid, but to reach out to somebody and to say, I I see you and yeah, I haven’t thought about that in a while, but it I’m so embarrassed that I was like, weird with her after that because I I wasn’t in my right mind.
Jameela [00:32:53] Have you ever had that conversation with her?
Emily [00:32:55] I haven’t, because I just thought of it now, and I’m like, Oh my Goodness.
Jameela [00:32:59] I think you should do it after the podcast. I don’t why I’m trying to be like, Do it right now get your phone out. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Please text me and let me know how that conversation goes, because I think that’s really cool. What she did
Emily [00:33:14] Totally forgot about that until now.
Jameela [00:33:16] and there’s definitely not enough of that in this industry, but also like dieting was competitive on set. Like, I remember that when I was doing a show back in England, I at the time wasn’t focusing on trying to be thinner than anyone else because I was so obsessed with my own size but I noticed some of my colleagues being very competitive with me about my size and then policing what I was allowed to wear, how much makeup I was allowed to wear, like whether or not I was allowed to wear heels because heels make my legs look longer and thinner. It was wild. And so that was a really tricky thing for me at work. And I remember that being a culture of people seeing who could eat less and who could be thinner and whose clothes are falling off or, who had to use belts just to hold their trousers up. It was really like disturbing
Emily [00:34:04] It was also a culture then of women pitted against women, which I I am so in awe of how things have changed. To see, even like on Tik Tok, the comments of girls being supportive of each other, being like, you look great, and if somebody says something mean people really get on them. And that was not what I grew up with and and especially like in our industry, it it has changed a lot, I think, in terms of just diversity and and wanting to represent people as they really are. As opposed to this crazy ideal that’s unattainable, what concerns me for younger people now is like the filter stuff and the photoshopping, and because then you start to think that’s normal. But I think having this new kind of barometer of what normal is and and healthy and yeah, I find I’m impressed with kids now, how supportive they are of each other and especially girls. That wasn’t my my growing up years.
Jameela [00:35:19] How was your time in this industry then? I mean, growing up as I did, in a kind of bitchier more isolated very like normalized to be sick time. How did you feel about it back then?
Emily [00:35:32] I mean, back then
Jameela [00:35:34] I’m sure at at the time, you probably thought it was quite normal. But now looking back?
Emily [00:35:38] Yeah. And and it was just it felt like survival. Everything I felt like it was I had to do whatever I had to do to win, and it was kind of like there was only one part for the woman. And and of all my friends going to the audition, you weren’t. I was friends with two other actresses, but you weren’t really friends with them at the end of the day. And that’s so not what it is like now for me. But I think though, the major thing for me was that I developed my sense of self in an audition room and going in there being like, What do you want me to be? And I think for many years, I have just I think my biggest problem was looking outward to see, what does this person want me to be and and not having a sense of self at all. And that is something that I now can see. You’re also so much better, so much better of an actor. When you do go in with that and you don’t go in with, what do you want me to be? You go in with, this is who I am. But when you’re a kid developing your identity, I think it’s just you need really good people around you to to help you I guess.
Jameela [00:37:05] When it comes to the body image stuff, where would you say you are now?
Emily [00:37:12] Now, I actually feel really great. I feel I mean, I feel like it’s never going to be gone. However, I think getting older has been great because I really now care about my health more than I did when I was a kid and thought I was invincible. And I think the world has changed to make it easier for me to love myself, which is crazy. I would never have even said that I would have been embarrassed to say that I like myself. And I think the world has been changing to support that.
Jameela [00:37:53] That’s wonderful. I also like the fact that I mean, I know this is my experience that I wish that my 12 year old self who was starving herself every day, could know that even though I know by no stretch of the imagination was, I, you know, particularly large on The Good Place. But that body having any curves, or any flesh on my bones whatsoever was a body that I thought no one could ever look at me like I shouldn’t leave the house if I have any flesh on my bones, and I can’t believe that I found the biggest success of my whole career when I stopped starving myself, even when at 26, when I really gained like a lot of weight and I kind of tripled in size. That was when I was doing again the best in my 20s, and I had one of the biggest jobs in UK radio and I was just killing it, and I was in the front of covers of magazines and I was selling clothing lines. Fuck, I wish she could have known that actually the times where I was bigger and eating and switched on and sleeping well and concentrating on my lines instead of trying to do, you know, like, I don’t know, fucking lunges in between takes. I wish she could have known that I like it, but it didn’t matter. And actually, I would do better when I got to that size that I had been so afraid. So sad.
Emily [00:39:12] Oh like, I have goose bumps because that is so true. It was true for me that my best work, my best opportunities were at a size where exactly like you said, I would have younger me would have been like, How did you leave the house? And and I do realize now that that that kind of confidence to to be able to be comfortable with myself as much as I could at certain times was the thing that made me a better actor made me get better parts made. Also, like you said, focusing on your lines instead of, you know, I think there was part of it that was easier to say I didn’t get a part because I was bigger then because I wasn’t as good and I could blame a lot of stuff on that. But yeah, God, that’s so, so resonates with me to tell your 12 year old self that because I never thought I could do anything unless I was inner.
Jameela [00:40:33] I found one of the things that you said about, you know, I think when you were kind of talking conflating the conversation around sexuality and your body image, you were talking about the fact that actually it was when you started to explore your sexuality more and explore the kind of women that you were attracted to, you found that you were attracted to curvaceous women, not women who looked as emaciated as you thought you had to. So that wasn’t your type. We’re not skinny shaming anyone. I’m just saying that that new realizing that like, Oh, I might actually be someone’s type because this is my type.
Emily [00:41:06] Yeah. And I remember, I guess, in in exploring my sexuality, I I started to feel like I was on the other side of things, the the male side, and I realized that I wasn’t attracted to what was said to me as being the male gaze that you should look like. I wasn’t personally attracted to this idea of this super thin, perfect model person. That to me, wasn’t it it just was not sexy and not a turn on. It was, if anything, a turn off. And to
Jameela [00:41:47] To you personally.
Emily [00:41:47] For me personally, and I don’t mean I don’t even mean weight now, I actually just mean anything photoshopped to perfection or perfection itself is not personally something that I find attractive anymore because it just seems so tied in hanging on and desperate. And I love a mistake I love. Just a human kind of not feeling is the wrong word. It’s like I did. I was at the Wrap Women’s Power of Women event thing, and this woman went up and was reading the teleprompter, and at one point she was like, I’m sorry, I have dry mouth, I need a glass of water. And she got a glass of water and someone gave it to her. And then she was stumbling a bit and said, I’m sorry, it’s my first time reading a teleprompter, and I was so grateful and loved her so much for just saying that because I was going to speak next. And I was so nervous and I was afraid that I’d get dry mouth and everything, and it opened this kind of gateway for me to be allowed to to be a failable human. And I feel that way in all sorts of ways now that I really appreciate people showing there’s supposed flaws.
Jameela [00:43:16] I know, like I think stretch marks are really hot on women and I mean anyone, really, but scars in particular, like a face scar. Sign me up, please. I don’t know what it is, but just
Emily [00:43:30] Yeah. Right? Well, for me, it signifies you’ve lived. I want to know that story. I want to know that
Jameela [00:43:36] I love wrinkles on any gender. Love, love, wrinkles.
Emily [00:43:39] Same.
Jameela [00:43:40] I think they’re so hot with gray hair. I love those things. Yeah.
Emily [00:43:43] Oh, gray hair is amazing on women. But yeah, and so it was in realizing what I genuinely found attractive wasn’t the little tiny box I’d put myself in before of what could be attractive. And it really helped me. As for my own body image that I was attracted to someone who just had the body they had and weren’t trying to change it with a struggle that wasn’t healthy.
Jameela [00:44:17] Do you feel like your general kind of fluidity when it comes to your interest in people like you’ve spoken before about your sexuality? Like do you feel like that has generally had? I don’t know. Like broadened your horizons for yourself, like being interested in or attracted to so many different things in so many different people and finding all these different sides of yourself now that you’re not depressed and so many more interests. Do you do you feel like that has opened you up as a person because it definitely has for me?
Emily [00:44:43] Yeah. Hundred percent. And I think the main way has been what used to be so mysterious to me was like how what guys thought of me and how a guy saw me. And that was when I was younger. The most important, not not even for them to like date me, for them to hire me. It was. That was what I thought was important was it wasn’t my my talent was kind of last. It was like, did they like me? Did they think I was beautiful? Did those kinds of things were what I thought was the the the only way that
Jameela [00:45:26] you could estimate your worth?
Emily [00:45:27] Yeah, yeah. And and in exploring my sexuality realizing that I’m not on the other side of that, like, I don’t care if you think I’m hot. I don’t like, I just don’t. And what’s ironic is that boy, does that ever make you hotter?
Jameela [00:45:49] Yeah.
Emily [00:45:49] And and and seen, I guess that is a thing. Seeing what I love in other people. I’ve been able to like, forgive myself and not hold myself up to such a unattainable standard that now I realize I don’t even like that standard.
Jameela [00:46:08] That’s fascinating to me. I love that. I love that so much. I think it’s really again like something that I can really relate to. And I I think it’s great that you’ve been so open about it publicly. But I also know that that comes at like a price to your privacy due to the fact that then everyone wants to talk to you about it. And you and I were both kind of bemoaning how when we have made the mistake of talking about it in print, our words get put in a certain way. And yeah,
Emily [00:46:38] I loved our conversation prior to this that that it is something that is is made of you. And to get an opportunity like this, to talk about it in in the whole context in. And we’re not just talking about I’m I identify as pansexual. We’re talking about like I technically at one point was like, this would be the term that you would label me as. And yeah, it’s just I like I like the conversation to always remain a conversation. And I think when we put labels like that for me, I start to get anxious. Like, What if I don’t live up to this label? What if I change my mind? What if I just am not attracted to one person or one gender? Like, I don’t want to have to be afraid of the label that I even gave myself. So I think. I don’t know, I just think discussions like this is it’s helpful sometimes.
Jameela [00:47:46] But you were on this show or you have been on this show, it’s now finished the show that has made such a big impact on so many people’s lives that provided so much just beautiful representation, very like casual, nuanced representation that never felt like it was a thing when it came to showing different sexualities. And I can’t tell you how much that has meant to most of the people that I know, as many of them are within that community. It’s going to change kids lives like seeing all of this stuff presented as just like regular family. I think that’s so important. How did that feel?
Emily [00:48:27] and it did change people’s lives. I mean, it’s interesting because we get these DMs from people all the time who it’s changed their lives and from families, from the kid who’s coming out and the mother whose son is coming out, or just all these different points of view on how just normalizing it made it accessible and and made people feel like it was OK. And it didn’t, I guess, before Schitt’s. I feel like a lot of the representation of the LGBTQ+ community was always kind of raw in the struggle of it, which on the one hand, had I had I made Schitt’s Creek at the beginning, I would have thought, if you’re going to represent a gay couple, you have to say something. And you have to because that’s what I thought after school specials and stuff and that you were supposed to do. And for Dan to right away from the get go have a mandate that there will be no homophobia in Schitt’s Creek. It just doesn’t exist there. No one misses it. And the townspeople will never be the butt of a joke. That was his two mandates, and I thought that was so revolutionary at the time because we’re so used to thinking that’s the way it is. You go to a small town and they must be homophobic, and then the gay couple has to struggle in that. But to see just a couple, a couple who love each other and and
Jameela [00:50:08] Who have like very ordinary, mundane nit picking struggles. And you know what I mean, like, it’s just like any other relationship that you would see on television. And I guess it was like the Will and it was like the Will and Grace impact for our generation. And it’s an amazing thing. And there was a particular scene that I know had a really big impact on you and had a big impact. I think on a lot of people where Dan’s character is talking to you about sexuality and his sexuality, and he’s talking about how and forgive me if I fuck this up. Or maybe you could explain it better.
Emily [00:50:43] Yeah. Well, it is where David explains his sexuality with a wine metaphor, and he says he’s into the wine, not the label. And and he said that he was pansexual and I remember shooting that scene. And to be honest, at the time, I didn’t get it. I didn’t. I’d never heard the word pansexual before I. I didn’t quite get the whole metaphor at the time. And I was very surprised that as much as everyone I knew was in the LGBTQ+ community, I felt like I was really open minded in terms of all things like that. But I was surprised that I didn’t know that. And then cut to, I guess, like five years later, I found myself in a relationship where I the first mistake was reading message boards, but I was reading stuff people were saying about like, Is Stevie a lesbian? Is Emily gay? Who’s Emily? Just all these things about what was I now? And I asked Dan because I was like, I what am I? I just fell in love with this person. And I genuinely have always found I never thought about it before. I’d always just fallen in love with a vibe like, I’m like, ooh, that person is amazing and I am attracted to that person. And and he was like, you’re pan, don’t you watch our show? And so it was it was also one of those moments where I think so many people say what the impact Schitt’s has had on them and. I think people should know it wasn’t lost on the cast, like all of us have been affected by it as well, that the sense of chosen family, that’s my chosen family, my Schitt’s family and and the ability to just really be who you are and discover who you are, that kind of thing. It it affected all of us just as much as I think it affected the world.
Jameela [00:53:10] It’s wonderful to hear. And so now going forward, as you’ve done all this work on yourself and you’ve come through, you’ve kind of just crossed all these like wonderful barriers when it comes to your own happiness and ability to stay present. What are your goals now going forward? Like, are there things you still want to work on or are the things you want to achieve? I’m so interested. You want to rest now because you’re tired from all the work you’ve done.
Emily [00:53:39] I definitely that’s something I still need to work on is rest being like I can rest. But what I really value now is when I say something that I wouldn’t have otherwise said before. Like if I am on a phone call and somebody says something that hurts my feelings or is is kind of diminishing to me or something, I will now, for the most part, I’ll speak up. And I never I mean, first of all, Canadian, I do not do that, but also Canadian woman. I would never. Say the truth of how I felt about things, and so now I feel like the biggest thing that has has helped me and what I want to continue doing more of is saying my truth, which sounds very hokey, but it’s also in the sense of, you know, I have started writing and I’m creating my own show, and I remember when I was growing up, I would always kind of give my ideas to a guy so they would do it. I would. I learned that you should make them think it’s their idea and then they’ll do it. And that kind of ridiculous, manipulative stuff that I would do to have a voice. And now I feel like I just want to encourage having a voice and taking my seat at the table that is there for me. It’s me that’s been in my way of of not taking that seat. So that’s ideally what I’d like my future to be.
Jameela [00:55:33] I think that’s a very healthy goal. That’s my kind of New Year’s plan. I think that’s the kind of thing I wish that we would be more encouraged to think about as, okay, it’s a new year. What am I going to work on? I’m going to work on asserting myself and being more romantic and. And I think feeling freer to enjoy our achievements is something I’ve definitely spoken about a fair bit on this podcast. I so appreciate you. You’re such a delight. It’s been such a nice chat. You’re so open and kind and unpretentious. So, Emily, before you go, will you please just tell me, what do you weigh?
Emily [00:56:15] Well, I think I weigh is it 21 grams that that’s the soul like when you die 21 grams.
Jameela [00:56:22] So I think I thought you were about to give me like an exact number and I was about to have a heart attack. Jesus Christ. That’s happened before on this podcast.
Emily [00:56:27] God, no. I wouldn’t even know the exact number right now, which actually is like a really kind of impressive to me thing. Yeah. So I weigh 21 grams. My my soul, my brain. I feel like I weigh my brain now. My point of view and my relationships. Everybody around me and my loyalty, I think, yeah, that’s what I weigh.
Jameela [00:57:00] That’s a lovely thing to weigh. Thank you so much. I hope that we get to meet again, and I will see you soon. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnigan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson, and the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com forward/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at Iweighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [00:58:01] I weigh being a big sister to an amazing little brother. I weigh having a close relationship with my older sister. I weigh giving back to my mom for everything that she’s given me. I weigh the trauma that I experienced when I was younger, I weigh the activism that I am currently a part of and various activism that I have been a part of from a young age.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.