Rolling Out

How Jamila Bell went from meme to doula advocate for Black women

The content creator opens up about her life experience and its influence on her comedy

Jamila Bell is solidified in online history. The content creator has one of the most used memes on the internet with a gif of her eating a bag of hot Cheetos.

Now with over 100,000 followers on YouTube and TikTok, the filmmaker and production company owner also promotes her duty as a Black mother and a doula for other Black women.

Recently, Bell stopped by rolling out to discuss her career and mission for Black mothers.

YouTube video

What is it like for you to be stamped in internet history forever?

It’s a weird feeling because, on one hand, it’s super cool.

When it first started showing traction and being an actual GIF, I didn’t even know how people were finding it. So I’m like, “What do I search in?” Now there are a couple things you can search to find it and it pops up.

I see people use it so frequently; it’s an actual, real GIF that people use often. It’s kind of weird, but on the same side, I don’t know if there’s a connection to who I am because I just recently posted on Twitter to show it was me.

The tweet was, “What’s your contribution to society?” So I tweeted the meme, and a lot of people were just now connecting whether or not that was me. I still think there’s a disconnect.

Why are you so passionate about being a mother?

I think it’s a pivotal part of society.

Community is something I’m very big on, which is why I stepped into also becoming a labor doula based on my own birthing experience, but also reading [about] maternal medicine — Black maternal medicine specifically — and how we have taken community out of the birthing process.

I want to bring that back in because it should be a communal process, and I’m just really big on community in general. Even after the baby’s born, having people there, outside of the actual parents … to help raise a kid [is important].  I was raised like that. Of course, I have my parents, but also I have my grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of the family and [people] like that to be there for us and make sure we have what we need and make sure we recenter that. I think with the advancement of technology comes the separation of families and communities are kind of dissipating. I want to see these things come back.

What was the HBCU experience like for you?

Going to Hampton was such an interesting experience because I went to the Dacula High School, which is majority White … I was not the most liked in high school. I was very vocal, but it wasn’t popular to be vocal about social issues back in the day. It was like, “Boo. We’re laughing.” And I’m just, like, “Oh, that was racist.”

On top of that, I started making content, and that was not popular back in the day. It was kind of awkward and embarrassing, even though I was proud of it. It just didn’t translate.

When I went to Hampton, it was a fresh start. I didn’t know anybody when I went there. That’s when I really knew I had social anxiety. Because I wanted to go home. I get very shy around people I don’t know, especially a big group of people. So it was very uncomfortable that first week, but then I started to make friends … I feel like I really blossomed at Hampton because I was able to just be my authentic self without being judged. Everybody was Black — there were a couple of White people — but everybody was Black. And people thought what I was doing was cool. That was the first time I really experienced that.

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