Maya Jama is the youngest person ever to present the MOBO Awards and is now the host of Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star and DAZN Boxing, amongst other acclaimed shows. Alongside presenting, Maya has launched MIJ Masks, and been an ambassador for PrettyLittleThing, Adidas, and Aussie. An accomplished individual, Maya Jama was named as one of Vogue’s most influential girls in 2019. Now, gracing the cover of Student Pocket Guide, Maya advises us on post-lockdown partying, her recent business venture, and her animated broadcasting career so far…
Maya Jama interview by Jessica Doran
Hey Maya, as someone who DJ’s and is a fellow lover of the party life, I’m sure you’re as ecstatic as I am about the easing of restrictions?
I’m over the moon that restrictions have eased. We’ve all been waiting so long to listen to live music again, party with large groups of friends, and I’m super excited now that music festivals have slowly started up again!
Now that we are hopefully somewhat returning to normality, I am sure our readers would love to hear about your favourite spots for food and drink. What restaurants and bars should we all be visiting?
My favourite club in London is The Box. It’s a half club, half shock sex show, and is always the most crazy, random, and fun night. If I’m in West London, then Laylow is a great place to hear live music. New breakthrough artists play every week, and the food in the restaurant is also great!
I loved hearing about your lockdown rave sessions alone in your kitchen on The Jonathan Ross Show. Very relatable. I wonder, what music have you been listening to most and who would be your top recommendations for breakout artists?
Over lockdown, I dug up some old classics like ‘Mardy Bum’ (Arctic Monkeys) and ‘Crazy’ (Gnarls Barkley), which I have been loving. I like a lot of the classic big hits, and a breakout artist I’d recommend is Pa Salieu, he is a phenomenal rapper.
I see you’ve recently joined the DAZN and Matchroom Boxing family. Tell us a bit about this: are you a boxing fan or is this a completely new endeavour?
I am thrilled to be joining the DAZN and Matchroom Boxing family, it will be an exciting new adventure for me. In recent years, I’ve started following more boxing and I’m looking forward to bringing something new to the sport.
In your new DAZN job, you’re teaming up with one of the biggest boxing promoters. What is Eddie Hearn like to work with?
Eddie Hearn is great; we met a couple of years ago and then he asked me onto his podcast. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about the industry and it’s such an honour to be able to work alongside such a fantastic and world class team.
Is it important for you that you test yourself in the industry and take on projects that are out of your comfort zone?
Yes, I think it’s always important to test and challenge yourself. That’s when you learn the most and it usually becomes the most rewarding experience.
You’ve had so many different presenting experiences, but I’m interested to know what has been your most embarrassing or cringe worthy moment in the industry?
I’ve had my fair share of cringe worthy moments in the past; I’ve been papped with my trousers undone before. I also got my heel stuck in a dress on the red carpet, and the wobble board on Celebrity Juice is never going to look pretty. The list is beyond, but my approach has always just been about enjoying yourself, working hard and not worrying about the small stuff.
Is there a show or gig that you’d love to host? Something to tick off the bucket list perhaps…
Not in terms of hosting, but next on my bucket list I’d love a gig as a Bond girl. When I was growing up, Halle Berry was my idol, and I remember watching her as a Bond girl and thinking that’s what I want to do one day. I think it would be so jokes!
I heard you are a big Bristol Rovers and West Ham fan. How was it doing the Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer gig with football legends?
It was a lot of fun and unlike anything I was used to. It was a shame that the Euros were postponed, but that meant that we were able to come back for a second season with more flavour, vibes, and jokes! It’s great working with Peter, he’s such a hilarious guy and obviously knows a lot about the sport.
We couldn’t have this Q and A without mentioning your already hugely successful MIJ face mask product. When did you come up with the idea to start your own skincare brand?
I came up with the idea a few years back when I was always recommending face masks to people, and then I just thought I’d make my own. It has been such a surreal experience, but I spent a long time researching which ingredients and products actually work. I wanted to release something at a more affordable price point that could deliver premium results.
Do you think that your interest in beauty has helped you in your hosting of the new series of Glow Up?
To be honest, hosting Glow Up has made me realise how hard it is to do make-up well. I have so much respect for all the contestants who have come on and been able to take an idea and make it come to life through make-up. It’s like watching artists at work.
Is there a make-up tip or trick that you’ve learnt from hosting Glow Up that you can give to our readers?
I’m not great at doing my own make-up, but a trick I learnt on Glow Up (which has undoubtedly changed the way I do my eyeshadow) is to use an opaque white base before applying brighter and richer colours. This not only brings out the depth but also helps intensify the impact of the eyeshadow. I also spent a long time perfecting the eye flick as a teenager, which is often my fall-back if I don’t have my glam team with me.
Your association with fashion campaigns suggests you are quite fashion conscious. As someone who frequently attends red carpet events, perhaps you can tell us what your favourite look of all time has been?
Gosh, so many favourite looks. But one of the most novel was when I attended the BAFTAs in 2020 and wore the world’s first 5G-powered AR dress. I got to open the carpet, and it was super cool to be able to debut a one-of-a-kind dress like that for the first time.
Your first presenting job was at the age of 20 with MTV; do you have any advice you could give to young people (our readers) who might be trying to make a career in radio or television presenting?
Advice I would give to aspiring presenters is to not be discouraged and disheartened by a “no.” Always take a “no” as a lesson on what you can do to improve and implement next time. Persistence is key; you will get a million people say “no” before you get a “yes.”
Finally, what can we expect to see from Maya Jama in the near future?
Always so many fun and exciting projects on the go! We’ve got some new TV shows in development; I also teamed up with Deliveroo in their new ‘Full Life’ campaign to help fight against hunger as we work towards delivering one million meals for people in need and remain committed to that. I’ve also got a few acting projects in the pipeline and really looking forward to working on a feature film.
Maya Jama interview by Jessica Doran
Maya Jama photography credit: Danika Lawrence