Love Island 2023: Maya Jama says ITV role is ‘a big moment’ as she hopes to inspire diversity on screen

Maya Jama proved to be the most popular choice for Love Island host - and now she’s hoping to open doors for other ethnic minorities

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Maya Jama has just started her Love Island hosting duties alongside a bunch of new singletons who entered the lavish South African villa, earlier this week.

The radio and TV presenter, 28, from Bristol, was born to a Somali father and a Swedish mother, making her the first non-white host of Love Island.

The ITV2 reality TV series has previously been accused for its tokenistic approach to casting, where Black women haven’t always had the easiest time.

Now, with the arrival of Maya on the popular primetime offering, it’s proving to be like a big breath of fresh air for the ITV2 show.

Maya Jama Love Island 2023 Ep1 on ITV2 (ITV images)Maya Jama Love Island 2023 Ep1 on ITV2 (ITV images)
Maya Jama Love Island 2023 Ep1 on ITV2 (ITV images)

After arriving in South Africa before the winter edition began filming, Maya spoke with British Vogue over Zoom to reiterate how she’s had to pinch herself multiple times since being signed on as host.

Maya said: “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.

“This is definitely a big moment for all of us in that sense, and I hope it just opens way more doors for other people from similar backgrounds and cultures as myself.”

At the age of 18, Maya moved to London to pursue a media career, initially as an actress, then as a TV presenter and fashion model. Although acting was her first ambition, she soon realised that she is better suited to being a TV presenter.

Maya Jama is the new host of Love Island 2023 (ITV)Maya Jama is the new host of Love Island 2023 (ITV)
Maya Jama is the new host of Love Island 2023 (ITV)

She felt drawn to a career in presenting as she believed she “didn’t have any other skills, than talking.”

“I could talk to anyone, at any time of day, from any walk of life, and really enjoy finding out about new people, " she added.

With such a prominent role in reality TV, she’s managed to evolve from being a Gen-Z TV favourite, to a British household name.

The BBC Radio 1 presenter explained that she’s “grateful” for the support that she has recevied on social media since her debut on Love Island and hopes to do the show justice.

On the topic of dating, Maya added that she doesn’t have a type but all of her exes have been taller than her.

She famously dated British rapper Stormzy, between 2015 and 2019, before dating NBA play Ben Simmons, who she was reportedly engaged to, until August 2022.

The first episode of Love Island 2023 aired on Monday, 16 January, and fans were instantly blown away by Maya’s impressive debut. Many viewers were stunned by the new Bristolian host, and even thought her presence overshadowed the contestants.

It has since been reported that Maya is set to sign a multi-series deal for Love Island, after impressing both TV producers and fans.