Maya Jama speaks about being the first non-white Love Island host


Maya Jama has described being the first non-white Love Island host as a ‘big moment’ and said she hopes it opens up ‘more doors’.

The presenter, 28, has taken over as the host of the ITV2 dating contest after Laura Whitmore announced she would be stepping down last summer.

She made her much-anticipated debut on Monday’s launch show of the 2023 winter series and was met by a gushing reception from fans.

‘This is definitely a big moment’: Maya Jama has spoken about being the first non-white Love Island host and said she hopes it opens up ‘more doors’

Maya, who is of Somali and Swedish heritage, has become the first non-white host of Love Island, with Laura, 37, and Caroline Flack previously holding the role.

Speaking about joining the show, Maya described it as a ‘big moment for all of us’ after Love Island has previously been criticised for its lack of diversity.

The radio DJ went on to say that she hopes her role as host will open ‘more doors’ to people of a similar background to herself.

She told Vogue: ‘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. 

New face: The presenter, 28, has taken over as the host of the ITV2 dating contest after Laura Whitmore announced she would be stepping down last summer

New face: The presenter, 28, has taken over as the host of the ITV2 dating contest after Laura Whitmore announced she would be stepping down last summer

‘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.’

Maya, who was named after the poet Maya Angelou, was born in 1994 to parents Hussein and Sadie. Hussein’s parents emigrated from Somalia in East Africa.

Maya has taken over as the host of Love Island from Laura, who was the second ever presenter when joined the dating reality show back in 2020.

She hosted the popular reality TV show and its spin-off programme Aftersun for three series before stepping down last summer. 

'I hope it opens way more doors': Maya, who is of Somali and Swedish heritage, has become the first non-white host, with Laura, 37, and Caroline Flack previously holding the role

‘I hope it opens way more doors’: Maya, who is of Somali and Swedish heritage, has become the first non-white host, with Laura, 37, and Caroline Flack previously holding the role

Impressed: She made her much-anticipated debut on Monday's launch show of the 2023 winter series and was met by a gushing reception from fans

Impressed: She made her much-anticipated debut on Monday’s launch show of the 2023 winter series and was met by a gushing reception from fans

In her statement, Laura said she was only planning to fill in for Caroline for one series, emotionally saying that she hope she did her late friend ‘proud’.

Laura replaced Caroline as the presenter of Love Island when she stood down in December 2019. Caroline tragically took her own life aged 40 in February 2020. 

Announcing she was leaving the show last summer, Laura said: ‘Some news! I won’t be hosting the next series of Love island.

‘There are certain elements of the show I’ve found very difficult that cannot be changed some due to the format, including the flying back and forth to South Africa along with my new conflicting projects.  

Host: Laura replaced Caroline as the presenter of Love Island when she stood down in December 2019

Host: Laura replaced Caroline as the presenter of Love Island when she stood down in December 2019

‘I wish it was still possible but know you’ll be in safe hands. 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.’

Speaking of Laura’s exit, an ITV spokesperson said at the time: ‘Laura has been a fantastic host across the last three series of the show. 

‘We are so grateful for everything she has brought to the programme but understand and respect her decision, and we look forward to working with her on upcoming ITV projects.’

Host: Laura fronted Love Island and its spin-off programme Aftersun for three series before stepping down last summer

Host: Laura fronted Love Island and its spin-off programme Aftersun for three series before stepping down last summer 

Laura later made a dig at Love Island as she blamed the ‘parameters of the show’ for her decision to leave.

She told The Evening Standard: ‘Love Island is a show that I love to watch, and I always want to work on shows that I enjoy. 

‘But there’s nothing more that I can do with it. There are parameters.

‘When you work on the show, you can’t really talk about certain things. But I’m really proud of what I did, and proud to leave on what I think has been a brilliant series, with great winners.’

Awkward: Laura later made a dig at Love Island as she blamed the 'parameters of the show' for her decision to leave

Awkward: Laura later made a dig at Love Island as she blamed the ‘parameters of the show’ for her decision to leave

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