Love Island: “Be Kind To Maya Jama – Let’s Not Forget”

Less than 24 hours since Maya Jama was named Love Island presenter, the trolling has started...

Maya Jama Love Island

by Jessica Barrett |
Published on

The official statement came in the form of a quite meta video on Wednesday. It showed presenter Maya Jama flicking through the latest news stories suggesting she was set to be announced as the new host of ITV2’s most talked about show, Love Island. The camera panned out to show her sipping on one of the now iconic Love Island water bottles. The caption read: ‘Okay, the rumours are true 😉 Say hey to your brand-new #LoveIsland host @mayajama!’

It’s a huge move for the 28-year-old Bristolian, who has risen up the TV ranks through shows like BBC Three’s Glow Up and Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Maya takes over from Laura Whitmore to present Love Island’s ninth season, the second instalment of Winter Love Island, set to take place in South Africa in January next year. ‘I've always been such a massive Love Island fan and I'm so excited to be hosting one of the nation's favourite shows!’ Maya said in a statement.

The appointment comes with huge pressure. As Maya has already noted, Love Island is one of the biggest shows on television. The finale of the last series was watched by a total of 3.4 million live viewers. The full season gathered over 250 million streams, making it the most watched series ever on ITV Hub. The amount of eyes on Maya is one thing; it’s the social media commentary and tabloid attention which comes with the role which adds another layer of pressure.

Love Island’s former host, Laura Whitmore, has spoken about the scrutiny that being the show’s host can bring. After announcing her exit from the show in August, Laura - who stepped in following the death of her friend Caroline Flack in 2020 - referred to ‘very difficult’ elements of the role. She added, ‘I was only planning to fill in for Caroline for a series and it turned into 3 series. I hope I did you proud Caroline.’

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Maya were not pitted agains other female presenters?

During an interview last month Laura expanded on the social media narrative around her presenting role. ‘When I first started doing MTV, if someone had an issue with you, you didn’t really know about it, you’d just carry on and do your job,’ she told The Independent. ‘The more successful you are, you get it more. I only get a tiny bit of it, but you look at people like Olivia Wilde, and people like that – what she’s got the last week – it seems the more successful you get or the more you do, the more people want to talk about you, the more they’ll throw negativity your way.’

Thanks to tabloid reports, Laura found herself having to defend her salary and the amount of air time she received on the show. She also responded to a social media user who suggested she’d only got the job because of her marriage to Love Island presenter Iain Stirling. Sounds exhausting, right? And all because a woman dared to, what, take a high profile presenting job? You simply don’t see the same level of scrutiny reserved for, for example, Joel Dommett fronting The Masked Singer, or Ant and Dec on I’m A Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here.

Of course whilst Caroline Flack was truly beloved as the host of Love Island, her fame as the show’s presenter also brought her private life further into the spotlight, something which she is said to have found increasingly difficult in the time before she took her own life in February 2020, two months after she was arrested on suspicion of assault of her boyfriend Lewis Burton. Laura Whitmore spoke out about the difficulty her friend had faced in that time during an impassioned speech on Radio 5 shortly after her death. ‘Your words affect people,’ she said. ‘To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard, enough.’

The #BeKind social media movement was on the rise following Caroline’s death, prompted by one of the 40-year-old’s final Instagram posts which read: ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’. Posts with the hashtag flooded social media. Yet the sentiment regularly seemed to be forgotten when it came to the treatment of Laura Whitmore during her run on the show, despite her proximity, both personally and professionally, to Caroline.

Now that Maya is taking over, we can only hope she is allowed to make the role her own. Alas, a tabloid piece has already claimed that viewers have spotted a ‘huge problem’ with Maya’s employment in the role. Spoiler alert: it’s that she is ‘too pretty’ and will distract the contestants.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if Maya were not pitted against other female presenters who could have taken the job instead of her, or scrutinised for her salary or her looks, or her outfit choices? Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we simply let her get on with her job? Be kind to Maya, let’s not forget.

READ MORE: Maya Jama Confirmed As New Love Island Host

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