Maya Jama is arguably the coolest woman on the British music scene right now. From red carpets to radio, the 23-year-old is, well, everywhere. Just last year, MTV regular and occasional model Jama made history as the youngest person ever to host the Mobos, presented her first primetime TV show, DJ’d for global brands and threw the only Halloween party in London that mattered (move over, Jonathan Ross).
She’s also a major Twitter source of #couplegoals, having been in a relationship with grime star Stormzy for the past three years. “We have games nights,” she says. “Him and his friends play Monopoly and me and my friends will just chat.”
However, it’s her latest gig as a BBC Radio 1 host (“You don’t [usually] get jobs like that until you’re at least 30”) that’s really cemented Jama’s position as the model millennial. That and her social following – 524k on Instagram – which, unusually, is a near-equal split between male and female followers.
Yet Jama’s influencer status hasn’t come easy. The Bristolian – who is of Swedish and Somali descent – was working three jobs when she first moved to London at 16. Prior to that, Jama would spend weekends visiting her father in jail, before deciding, aged 12, to cut ties with him, a decision that would later become the focus of her 2017 documentary, When Dad Kills: Murderer In The Family.
Jama’s appeal lies in her ability to be both adorably authentic and alluringly positive. “When you go through loads of bad things that are meant to crush you down, you realise you have no control over these things,” she says. “It’s about how you deal with them after that defines you as a person.
Jama has faced racial abuse of her Somali heritage being referred to in a remark, to which she says,
“I drew attention to the comments because it is so ridiculous, why don’t people speak about it? It’s a joke. You think you’re complimenting me by saying, ‘You’re pretty for a Somali girl’ and I’m like, ‘You’re literally being racist but you don’t even know; you think that you’re saying something nice.’ So I felt like, when I did make that post before, I was kind of showing people that probably don’t even know that they’re being racist and they just see it as a compliment – they’ve just obviously seen it as normal growing up – to shine light on the fact that it’s definitely not normal and it’s very offensive and if you didn’t know then hopefully now you do.”