Directed by Jonathan Butterell, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is a musical comedy-drama film that revolves around the eponymous character (Max Harwood), a 16-year-old teenager who has never been an adherent of conventionality. Jamie has no desire to pursue an ordinary career. Instead, he wants to perform as a drag queen. He faces many challenges as he earnestly attempts to fulfill his dreams but gets full support from his wonderful mother and friends.
On a fundamental level, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is a coming-of-age movie about a boy who eventually becomes empowered enough to embrace his uniqueness completely. If the film’s earnest depiction of the struggles of a young boy who dares to dream differently has made you wonder whether it is based on a true story, here is what you need to know.
Is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is based on a true story. It is the cinematic adaptation of the namesake stage musical (music by Dan Gillespie Sells and book and lyrics by Tom MacRae). That, in turn, drew inspiration from the 2011 TV documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’ about the real-life Jamie Campbell. Jamie grew up in Bishop Auckland, a market town located in County Durham, England, and despite the conservative surroundings, he has always loved experimenting with his clothes.
“… I had always dressed up throughout my childhood,” Jamie told BBC. “Tutus were a favorite, but I’d also wear my mum Margaret’s shoes and dressing gown, and argue with my female friends over who would get to wear the princess dresses. I was just naturally flamboyant.” When he was 14 years old, Jamie came out as gay because he didn’t want to pretend otherwise.
While this helped him embrace his sexuality, it made him a target of constant bullying from not only his peers at school but also some adults. But he persevered, and Jamie cites his mother’s constant support as one of the main reasons for it. At 15, he decided that he wanted to come out in public in drag. Encouraged by his mother, he started making preparations to attend his 2011 prom in a dress.
According to Jamie, he and his mother reached out to the documentary crew, fearing that things might turn violent when people see him at the prom. They thought that no one would hit Jamie with a camera present there. Ultimately, the entire experience turned out to be wonderful. Jamie showed up at the prom as his drag persona, Fifi la True. Although a teacher initially refused to let him in, his fellow students and their parents spoke on Jamie’s behalf, and he was eventually allowed to enter the venue.
For Jamie, that was the moment he found out that people had accepted him for who he was. “That moment was so magical because it made me wonder whether I was wrong for presuming all these people were going to have a negative attitude towards what I was doing. Was I bad for thinking they’d reject Fifi? It just showed how far we had come since I first decided to do the [documentary] film,” Jamie said.
In the stage musical, Jamie’s name has been changed to Jamie New. MacRae, who also wrote the screenplay for the 2021 film, kept the name from the musical. In a different interview, Jamie insinuated that he had outgrown Jamie New. “It’s like being trapped in that 16-year-old self because Jamie New isn’t me directly… well, he’s inspired by me, but he’s not 100% me,” he stated. “And people associate Jamie New with exactly how I am. We are obviously quite similar and share a lot, but it was a long time ago, and a lot has gone on since then.”
In the ensuing years, things have changed drastically. Because of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and similar shows, drag has become a part of the mainstream culture, bringing positive changes to the lives of the teenagers who, like Jamie, love to dress up in drag. As for Jamie himself, he has since become a fashion designer. Therefore, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is a true story clearly based on an important chapter of Jamie Campbell’s life.