8 Things You Didn't Know About Maya Jama: Radio Presenter, Mental Health Advocate And All-Round Cool Cat

ELLE UK sat down with the 2017 Isle of Wight festival presenter and girlfriend of grime artist, Stormzy, to talk all about her namesake, party tricks and her mental health advocacy.

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We first met television presenter, Maya Jama, on the red carpet of the ELLE Style Awards earlier this year, where she spilt the beans on love with her grime and hip hop artist boyfriend, on her hankering for regular Deliveroo takeaways and her passion for watching Louis Theroux documentaries on the sofa.

From that moment onwards, we knew Jama was our kind of girl.

#3 shot & styled @mishameghna 📸

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

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Let's be honest, while we loved chatting to her adonis of a MOBO-winning beau, what we were really interested in was a good old natter with Jama.

Not only is the 22-year-old stunning (just take one glance in her direction), but she's boiling-over with fantastic chat. Not that we should be surprised, of course, seeing as she landed her first big presenting job at the MTVbase show TheWrapUp at the age of 20 and has since gone onto be the face of numerous 4Music shows and interview the likes of Izzy Bizu, Alessia Cara and Craig David.

However, what singles the half-Swedish, half-Somali presenter out from the her TV counterparts is her laid-back and self-deprecating personality.

Don't believe us? Just check out her Instagram account, where you'll regularly see her pulling funny faces, posting witty captions and singing along to her favourite tunes.

Grabbed a piece of tree cause I'm awkward 🌿 glasses:@fendi top:@houseofcb culottes:@keepsakethelabel

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

So, after the Style Awards we decided it was about time we got to know a little more about this leading lady.

Here's what we found out:

1) She's a mental health advocate

Maya shares her beau's passion for mental health advocacy. Last month, Stormzy bravely spoke out about his personal struggle with depression, admitting in an interview with Channel 4 News: 'Depression was a world that was so alien to me. I just used to think, you get up and march on. So for me, I felt that if I needed to address that, what I was going through.'

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Maya is no less fervent in her desire to shed light on the commonly misunderstood disease.

'I've got at least five people around me who have, for the last two years, been going through stuff,' she says.

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Admitting she was previously ignorant of the disease – which affects more than 300 million people around the world– Jama noted: 'I don't think I really understood it before.

'I used to think, "If you're sad, just be happy, do things that make you happy." But then I realised everyone's brain is different.'

Forever mood 📸@luceroglow

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

'There are people who are going through [mental health issues] who are scared to talk about it, because of how it's perceived, with people perhaps not taking it seriously enough or thinking it's something you can just sleep off,' she adds.

As a result, Maya uses social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, to encourage her followers to speak more openly and honestly about mental health.

Her advice for anyone whose friends and family might be going through a dark time?

'Be understanding and give them time and talk. Talk about how you feel. A lot of people get confused when there's no communication between people. You might just assume they're angry at you or don't want to talk, when actually you need to not be judgemental,' she explains.

2) Maya doesn't call Stormzy by his stage name

While we might know her rapper boyfriend as Stormzy, Jama as his girlfriend doesn't call him this behind closed doors. However, she admits she doesn't even call him by his real name, Michael Omari, at home.

She reveals: 'I definitely don't call him Stormzy. Unless I have to talk about him on the radio then I have to, which always feels a bit weird.'

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Babe, they're getting way too big for their boots...🤔

A post shared by Gang Signs & Prayer (@stormzyofficial) on

Instead she has a pet name for him. 'Mals – it's a stupid nickname but it would take too long to explain,' she jokes.

3) She's Wary Of The 'F-Word'

During our conversation with the presenter, Maya surprises us by admitting she's dubious about the term 'feminism', revealing: 'I've never called myself one. I wouldn't consider myself one but, I agree with most of it.'

Krept's all white party last night🎉serious boat ⛵️ & double denim 🔪

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

Like many people (*ahem* we're looking at you, Angela Merkel), the star uses the word with trepidation, but after a quick chat with us she admits she could identify as a feminist, after all.

'I think women should be equal and I'm pro-women. I've never out and out said I am, but I suppose I am a bit. Yeah, I would say I am,' she says.

'At'a girl.

4) She's on a mission to rid social media of perfection

Not only does Jama want people to speak out about their struggles with mental health, she also wants to see more social media transparency.

Women should be equal and I'm pro-women.

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Growing up, Maya admits the insecurities about her changing body, clothes sizes and seeing models in fashion magazines resulted in her thinking other people's bodies were perfect, yet unattainable.

She says she used to question: 'Why can't I look like this? Why can't I have a body like that?'

Having learned to love her body over the years, the presenter is now concerned for the well-being of young girls whose perception of reality and beauty ideals is heightened due to the ever-dominating presence of social media.

She adds: 'There wasn't half as much pressure during my childhood. Now, young girls have the same phone, apps and filters, so when they see women with bodies that are impossible to achieve, they automatically compare themselves.'

'I haven't had surgery, but as far as posing and looking the best I can goes, if someone's going to compare themselves to me, I might as well be completely honest [with them].

'It's no skin off my back to say: 'Look I don't look like that all the time'. So, if that honesty can help change someone's mind, it's only doing good,' she notes.

Couldn't decide so here's both xxx

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

Discussing her Instagram account, which is full of down-to-earth images of the presenter without make-up along with perfectly-poised shots of her during shooting for her latest shows and campaigns, Jama hopes her social media presence can help women understand there is realness and imperfections to every woman.

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'Take the fancy pictures, do your make-up for ten hours, and look fantastic. But, also show the other side, because most of the time that's what we look like,' she says.

5) You won't see much P.D.A. from her

Despite her personal mission of online honesty, there's one thing Maya is keen to keep on the down-low.

'For the first year and a half [Michael and I] were pretty much secret, so nobody really knew [about our relationship] apart from friends – that's how we wanted it. Slowly but surely, we we didn't want to hide it so much,' she reveals.

❤️✨📸@gibsterg

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

But, with Stormzy's award-winning music and her TV presenting credentials on the rise, how do the London-based couple find the chance to spend quality time together?

'It's a balance. We both have our own careers but I never want it to be just about us so that's why we don't want to show too much [on social media].

'We're with each other everyday so there's going to be bits and bobs that come out [about us]. He's in my Snapchats, but we're trying not to be an in your face couple. If we were two people who worked in Sainsbury's, we'd be in each other's Snapchat. We just what normal people do,' she muses.

6) She's named after a civil-rights activist and poet

If you're wondering where Maya get's all her chutzpa from, you need only look as far as her namesake.

During her mother's pregancy, she read Maya Angelou's seminal memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which inspired her to call her daughter after the American poet.

Named after the Legend, large up my Mum 👑

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

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'My mum was stuck for names and when she was reading [Angelou's book] she was like, "I like that name, she's amazing,"' she adds.

7) She's had a full-time job since the age of 16

And, we're not talking about Saturday jobs and the occasional part-time bar work – Jama has held down a full-time career from the age we were all sitting down to study for our G.C.S.E.s.

Explaining her rise to fame, the London-based presenter says: 'I started on YouTube and Twitter when I was about16. There's a lot of people who saw me from my first ever [Youtube] video, so for them to see me presenting an ITV show [Jama is the presenter of up-coming Saturday night show, Canonball], they're like, 'yeah, go!''

On job 😊

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

Jama's rise to fame – from YouTube vlogger to primetime television presenter by the age the majority of us are still struggling to choose a career path – is a pretty impressive feat, but it's a career path that's taken sacrifices and hard graft.

She reveals: 'I used to want to act when I was younger, so I went to a lot of auditions which were often in London. I had an auntie who lived there, so I'd go up and stay with her for a little bit to do auditions. The more I was doing them, the more I felt like maybe should I should move.'

Take all the fancy pictures and do your make-up for ten hours and look fantastic. But, also show the other side because, most of the time, that's what we look like.

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'I was more naive then, which was a good thing as it worked in my benefit. I didn't think it might not work.'

Luckily for Jama, her mum was incredibly supportive of her career goals, telling her she could return home to Bristol if her acting career failed.

'I didn't want to move back because I was like, "sh** I've told everyone I'm going to be really successful and if I go back I'm going to be really embarrassed." So that's what pushed me to stay [in London],' she admits.

Had a hair cut

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

8) She's incredibly talented at doing impressions

With a penchant for drama, Maya is extremely proficient in accents and bonkers expressions (as well as the best Sampha impression you've ever heard, we might add).

She reveals: 'I can do loads of accents and I can change my face into the most disgusting poses ever – loads of animated stuff.'

All jokes aside, I could be his backing singer with that tone there #sampha

A post shared by Maya Jama (@mayajama) on

'In the middle of the night I say, "look I can do this one" and I'll do Australian and Irish accents,' she jokes.

Maya Jama – our new favourite 'It' girl.

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