We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamila Allen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamila, what matters most to you?
When I think of what principle matters most to me, it would be integrity. We are all programmed to have an end goal, but I strongly believe that it’s not just the end goal that matters, but how we get there that makes all the difference. It all comes down to, how did you treat people and will you be remembered for uplifting others or putting them down? We all want to leave behind a legacy, but wouldn’t you want your legacy to be because you were good to people? In this industry where we often play make believe, it is very easy to lose sight of yourself. However, integrity deals with how we treat others as well as how we treat ourselves. In Los Angeles, people walk around wearing a mask—they can easily pretend to be something they aren’t and fall down the rabbit hole of this egotistical mindset. With acting, it’s a solo sport. It isn’t like basketball where there is a team or someone keeping you accountable. I believe it’s so important to live your everyday life with integrity and to be able to make a strong impact on society. Integrity gives you the strength to understand others and a strong moral compass that guides you through every movement. Above all, integrity allows you to gain trust and respect of your fellow peers.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I cannot speak for other actors, but I think my drive is what sets me apart. I will never give up on this career because I know in my heart of hearts that this is what I am meant to do. It may not always happen when I want or how, but I trust that it’s where I’m supposed to be. I’ve always said a lot of skills can be taught, but drive cannot. You either have it or you don’t. What I’m most proud of to date, is being a part of projects with a great message. I am so proud to have had a small part in the Netflix series, Unbelievable, that has such powerful meaning and impact. There are so many hard topics, such as sexual assault, that often are the hardest to discuss. But it’s important that we continue to talk about these things and bring awareness to what’s happening in the world. The road to get to where I am today was not easy by any means. I did everything on my own, without a lot of help from others. I moved out here as a minor and lived with a host family. I would take 2 hour bus rides to auditions, for just five minutes of being in the casting room. Being a teenager is difficult already, but especially in the entertainment industry. I was trying to find who I was, while constantly trying to be someone else. I really struggled with finding my authentic self, and not just showing up in a way I thought others wanted me to. Unfortunately, image is a large part of entertainment, so being a thick young black girl, I found myself struggling a lot and focusing on what I wasn’t versus who I actually am. I think I’ve always struggled with the roles available for women of color but especially black women. This often causes conflicting feelings because I don’t ever want to seem ungrateful for an opportunity or an audition. At the same time, I also have to wonder- blacks can be pictured as more than gangsters and slaves, right? We can be literate and not speak in bionics. So why doesn’t television and film reflect that? I also feel like coming into acting classes I was alone in that struggle. I never really had anyone who could relate to me in that way. I’m so thankful for how the industry is changing now. And those stereotypical roles are few and far between. There are roles that show such strength and depth and we owe all of that to writers, content creators, and visionaries.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Absolutely living for this question! Even though we are currently in Covid time, I’m going to pretend that we’re not. In that case, I would show them around by checking out a different city each day. Monday: I would start with Santa Monica and walk along the pier. Check out the Venice Canal and eat at the Butcher’s Daughter, located on Abbot Kinney. Tuesday: I would visit downtown LA and go to the Grand Central Market. Ride the trolly and then go to Skyspace for a drink and to look over the entire city. Wednesday: I would take a day trip to Temecula, taste wines from a few vineyards and then end with a seafood dinner. Thursday-Saturday: Make a trip to San Luis Obispo! We would stay for a few nights at my favorite boutique hotel, The Madonna Inn, and enjoy the scenery, chat and relax. We could also take a stroll downtown, or walk by the water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My special shoutout goes to my mom who has been my biggest supporter since day one. She supported me when I was a girl in Ohio with a dream. Being in this industry is hard enough, and if you don’t have that support system it’s even harder. I have always had big dreams and anyone who has big dreams knows that there will be people who tell you how hard it will be, especially in this type of industry. So it’s always really nice to have someone who is in your corner. I believe that having a supportive team behind you is just as crucial. There is truly so much that goes on behind the scenes, such as maybe you didn’t get a role because they decided to go in a different direction, or someone’s cousin landed it. There are a thousand reasons why I or anyone else may not get booked, which is why it’s so important to have people that believe in you and your talent, despite the odds. The reality of it is that actors don’t book everything and that makes it hard to measure success in this industry. Just because you may not get a callback doesn’t mean you’re not talented or worthy. Because of these minor fallbacks or successes, it’s important that your team sees you and believes in you no matter what.
Main B&W- Ashton Charles Yellow- Yuxin BTS from Internet Kills- Naima Noguena