Maya Jama’s ethnicity — Her heritage detailed

Maya Jama

Love Island has hit the jackpot after recruiting Maya Jama as the show’s host. Jama outshone the contestants at the start of the show’s 9th series in Cape Town, South Africa. The showrunners hope that Maya’s popularity will boost the show’s viewership, which has dropped dramatically. 

“The reaction to last night’s launch was electric,” a TV insider told The Sun. “You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed seeing a photo of Maya in that black dress yesterday and it will surely captivate those who previously only had a casual interest.”

Jama appreciated the plaudits, writing on Instagram that she was ‘overwhelmed’ by people’s reactions. 

Maya Jama’s father is Somali, and her mother is half-Swedish and half-Scottish

Maya Jama's parents
Maya Jama’s parents | MayaJama/Twitter

Maya Jama was born on 14th August 1994 in Bristol, England. She is Somali, Swedish, and Scottish. 

Jama’s father, Hussein, fled the conflict in Somalia and settled in Bristol, where he met Maya’s mother, Sadie, in a local pub. “She was lovely,” Hussein told The Daily Mail. “She’s half-Scottish and half-Swedish and we both really liked music and within a year we were living together.”

Jama’s brother, Omar, was born after the family briefly relocated to Stockholm in the mid-1990s. “We lived there [Stockholm] for about 18 months but then I came back,” he continued. “I missed Bristol and came home.”

Jama sees her casting as a triumph of the push to improve diversity in television. “Growing up, I never saw an East African woman host a show, and no Black or mixed-race woman hosts such a big primetime TV show, other than June Sarpong,” She told British Vogue. “This is definitely a big moment for all of us.”

Jama hopes her casting ‘opens way more doors for other people from similar backgrounds and cultures as myself’. 

Jama wasn’t always proud of her ethnicity. Aged 11, she experienced bullying due to her Somali heritage, so she lied about her background. After talking to her family about the abuse, Jama’s confidence grew, motivating her to express pride in her culture. 

“After having a proper chat with them, I realized it’s something to be proud of. I went back to school all guns blazing like, ‘This is me and this is where I’m from,’” She told inews. “I went back to school all guns blazing like, ‘This is me and this is where I’m from.’

“All the stuff that anybody could ever try and hold against me, I shout it loud and proud from my chest. Then no one can say anything, can they?”

Jama continues to experience racism due to her Somali heritage

In March 2018, Jama told GQ that she had never experienced racism due to her skin color. The racism she’d endured stemmed from her Somali heritage. “There’s always been a stigma against Somali people and I’ve experienced that loads,” she said. 

Jama said she faces racist comments online from people who might not even know they are being racist. She explained:

“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.’”

Two months later, internet sleuths unearthed tweets Jama posted as a 17-year-old about ‘dark skin bitches’. The tweet read: “Dark skin bitches shaving their head expecting to look like Amber Rose, when really they end up looking like Micheal Jordan.”

Fans deemed Jama’s apologies weak, so she appeared on the Receipts Podcast to apologize again. Jama said she understood the criticism, having experienced abuse and discrimination due to her ethnicity. She explained:

“So I get it, it’s not the same thing, but I understand the feeling of people being rude and taking the piss out of where you are from. Or your race or your skin color. When it’s something you can’t change.”

During a June 2020 appearance on Sunday Brunch, Jama insisted that racism wasn’t just an American issue. She said:

“I think I just wanted to say on this show as well, it’s easy sometimes to be in England and look at America and think, ‘we’re so disconnected from that’ or ‘we’re nothing like that’. But actually racism is everywhere and it is in the UK.”

In light of the BLM protests that had proliferated in America following George Floyd’s murder, Jama reiterated that ‘Black Lives Matter and they always have’. Jama concluded:

“I think everybody should take this opportunity to come together and start speaking openly about it and have those awkward conversations and educate themselves so we can actually eradicate it permanently and move forward.”