Tuesday’s announcement of upcoming streaming service HBO Max’s voguing competition show Legendary immediately became its own shitshow when the announced MC/judge Jameela Jamil announced on Twitter that she was, in fact, not the show’s MC but just a judge.
Per the press release, Legendary aims to bring ballroom culture (that which has thrived within queer POC communities for decades and was perhaps most famously documented in the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning) to a reality competition format. The series will be “highlighting modern-day ball culture, divas battle on teams called ‘Houses’ in fashion and dance challenges including vogueing for the chance to snatch the legendary trophy and win a cash prize.” Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach, and Leiomy Maldonado were announced as judges, while ballroom staples (and legends in their own right) Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ were tapped to provide commentary and music, respectively, according to the release.
The press release arrived in my inbox at 3:30 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday. Its subject was: “HBO Max’s Ballroom Voguing Competition Series Legendary Taps Jameela Jamil to MC and Judge.” Its first sentence was: “HBO Max announced today that actress, activist and host Jameela Jamil will MC and judge Legendary, the 9-episode unscripted voguing competition series from Scout Productions.” Later in the email, Jamil was again referred to as the Master of Ceremonies above her bio:
But this is not so, Jamil would eventually announce. Out has a great write-up of the ensuing messiness. The announcement sparked some grumbling on Twitter that wondered aloud why Jamil, with no obvious ties to ballroom or queer culture, for that matter, should be MCing this show. According to Out, Jamil initially tweeted a link to Deadline’s story and wrote: “I’m *so* excited to be a tiny part of bringing ballroom further into the mainstream where it belongs.” But then she deleted that tweet and some others regarding her excitement for the series, eventually refuting Deadline’s reporting and, in Out’s words, “revising the narrative in real time.”
Wednesday morning, Jamil tweeted that the press release was “inaccurate” and thus “upsetting” to her. Jezebel has reached out to HBO Max for clarity and will update this post if/when we hear back:
Jamil took to tweeting the official HBO Max Twitter for a correction.
The tweet announcing the panel has been deleted. Jamil referred to the announcement—which came directly from HBO Max and, allow me to remind you, said several times that she was the MC—as a “simple journalistic mistake.”
And then there was this:
Jamil then corrected Trace Lysette about the nature of her conversations about her potential role on the show:
Imagine trying to tell someone what they auditioned for. Here’s why you shouldn’t:
Great show so far!
Update (5:32 pm): A spokesperson for HBO Max has sent out a message to clarify the assigned roles on Legendary:
Yesterday, HBO Max was excited to announce Dashaun and Jameela’s involvement in the series LEGENDARY. For clarity, Dashaun is the series’ MC/Commentator, and Jameela heads up the panel of judges alongside Leiomy, Law, and Megan.
Also, Jameela Jamil came out as queer in a Twitter post, in which she reveals that the show is set to start shooting tomorrow. She says more things about her involvement in the show, and ends with: “To the press, I really really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just focus on the contestants of the show until it’s out.” The press (me) says: We’re not taking assignments from Jameela Jamil at the moment.