Maya Jama On Staying True To Yourself On Instagram

'I got to a point where I realised actually I’m so much more than what I look like'

Maya Jama Interview

by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Published on

If you’ve spent any more than a second over on Maya Jama’s Instagram page, you’re probably already pretty desperate to be her best friend. We feel you.

But, in case you’re not yet throwing double taps all over her feed, let me introduce you. Maya is a presenter slash all around cool person who is smashing life. You might recognise her from MTVbase (#throwback to the glory days), Vevo videos and most recently a mini docu-film about PERi-PERi sauce video with Nandos. Living the actual dream, amirite?


We were lucky enough to have a chat with Maya to find out how she handles her life online, what Stormzy thinks about her Instagram habits and what it was like to uproot and make the big move to London to land her dream job. Oh, and most importantly, she's a Mango & Lime kind of gal, although Maya is partial to some Medium sauce on the side. By the way.

Hey Maya! So, tell us about your trip to Mozambique. It looked sooo good.

Yeah, it was amazing I’ve never been to Africa at all so going to Mozambique was amazing. We lost our luggage as soon as we got there and I think we had like an hour to shop in what was basically the Mozambique Westfield’s which was tiny. But it was beautiful weather, I got to see everything and I got to learn how to make PERi-PERi sauce!

Your job sounds like an absolute dream. Everyone loves a Nandos so it must've been really cool to go out there and see it all happen.

Yeah, it was completely different. Doing music and entertainment also means that I can do things with fashion, I can do things with food - that’s probably the best bit about my job. I’m not a good cook though so I was a bit worried before because I thought they were going to make us have a proper Nandos chef-off.

How do you find juggling being on social media all the time with work and just living life, have you always been a big social media person?

I feel like social media came at the right age for me, I’m so lucky that it wasn’t around when I was in school because I’d be too distracted to do anything. But once I’d left school about half way through college I got an Instagram and I’d already started presenting so that kind of went hand in hand.

But now it’s more of a hobby and it doesn’t feel like work. I know a lot of my friends are like, ‘oh I have to do this’, but I’m on it naturally anyway so it comes as second nature. Sometimes I hate how much I’m stuck on it but it does help my job so, yeah.

Okay, but do you ever do that thing of agonising over 50 selfies that look exactly the same before posting one?

Yeah, I’m ridiculous. My boyfriend always takes the absolutely piss out of me because I’ll take like seven that look exactly the same and be like ‘chose one’ because I’m so indecisive but yeah.

Not that I’ve been stalking (I’ve definitely been stalking) but what’s great about your Instagram account it that everything comes across as honest and you actually look like you’re having fun, whereas lots of big social media personalities can seem quite false. How do you do it?

I remember when I wasn’t doing much and I wouldn’t consider myself as particularly far in my career, and I’d look at girls on social media and they all look kind of like, not the same but there was a pattern of really edited pictures and unrealistic photos that you can’t take yourself.

Then I’d see these people in real life and be like, well you don’t actually look like that. I had the same complex of ‘oh, how am I ever going to look like that? I don’t compare to these people’, and I didn’t feel like I could achieve what they looked like. So, as I started getting more followers I thought, well I’m not going to change how I am on social media.

When I started, I was always very much like ‘This is me in the morning’, ‘this is me at night’. The same picture that I’d send to my friends I’ll upload to Instagram. Rather than just to trying so hard just to look nice, I wanted to get my personality across. I don’t want to be one of those unrealistic, untouchable people. I want people to see me a feel like, yeah, I could be her friend.

It’s a lot of pressure for young women our age, isn’t it? We’re at the point where Instagram is life for so many people and it’s so great for there to be people like you who are themselves and can remind everyone that Instagram can be fun as well.

My aim is to make everyone to become like that! I want everyone to start posting all the shitty stuff as well because I feel like people post more on Snapchat, and then Instagram we only show a certain side of ourselves.

It must be nice for Instagram to be an extension of what you’re doing anyway rather than feeling like you have an obligation to post x amount. Do you ever try to separate stuff about work and stuff about day to day life, or do you quite like that transparency?

I feel like I share most of it but there’s obviously things where I think, well alright, people from my work are watching so I’m not going to be raving and putting up every picture where I’m smashed! Also, I’m aware that young girls look up to me too. But otherwise, it’s completely me. And I feel like if I started behaving any other way my friends would be like ‘erm, hold on Maya you’re still that girl from Bristol’ and completely take the miss out of me anyway.

You did the big move from Bristol to London when you were quite young. How do you look back at it now?

Yeah, I moved at 16. I have such a bad memory and because everything happened so fast, I forget how hard it was. I was so broke and jumping on trains and pretending I lost my oyster card so that I didn’t have to pay, eating like £2 meals and doing lots of free work.

But I think also because I had so much pride and had told everyone that I was going to go off to live my dream, I thought ‘no I can’t go back, that’s so embarrassing’ - that was a massive deal and played a huge part in me not going back when it got hard. That sort of thing is always really hard but I think the main thing is just actually going through the hard bit.

It’s harder now - I didn’t have Instagram back then but if I did it would have probably been really distracting to see other people getting places. It can always feel like someone’s doing better.

Do you ever still get self-conscious on Instagram or are you over it because you use it so much?

No really so much on Instagram. I only worry that people will meet me in real life and be like ‘oh she’s not anything like she is on Instagram’. I always have that little thing. I think that’s why I’m so adamant about it now. I used to tell this joke – ‘You can’t catch me looking shit because I post the shit pictures, so you’ll never be surprised’.

Does Stormzy mind how much you’re on Instagram? He’s not quite as frequent a poster as you are!

Nah, we’re both phonies. We do try to tell each other to get off our phones. Actually, before bed, we’ll both be on our phones but otherwise, we’re quite good. He had a huge social media break so he’s better than me at the moment but I’m working on that.

Do you think you could ever do the social media break thing?

I could if I had to… but just don’t really want to!

How have you learnt to avoid the pressure to be a certain way online?

I had really supportive people around me who, whenever I did have doubts, would reassure me. But if I didn’t have those voices of reason, I’d worry about things like people not liking me if I posted this or that, but then I got to a point where I realised actually I’m so much more than what I look like and started paying more attention to the things I knew I was good at rather than the things I didn’t like so much. You’re more than your appearance. You’re more than your insecurities.

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Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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