How Maya Jama overcame tragic teenage romance & jailbird dad to become jet-setting millionaire with own clothing line


 WITH a wardrobe to rival the Kardashians, a stream of top TV gigs and endless luxury holidays via private jet, Maya Jama has built up quite the extravagant lifestyle.

And now the hard-working presenter, 26, has got the millionaire status to match it, after building up a huge fortune over the last few years thanks to her successful business, presenting jobs, modelling and fashion lines.

An insider told The Sun: “Maya has been grafting for years, honing her craft, but this year she’s really come into her own."

But while Stormzy's ex now enjoys a very glamorous life, it's a far cry from her childhood and teen years.

Maya has overcome a very tough upbringing, with her dad in and out of jail. She then suffered unimaginable heartbreak at 16, when her boyfriend was shot and killed.

Now we look at how the star has overcome her tough earlier years to climb the showbiz career ladder to the very top…

'I shouldn’t have been where I am now'

Maya has been incredibly open about her tough childhood, and says much of it has motivated her success as an adult.

The TV star, who is of Somali and Swedish descent, grew up in Bristol but endured years of upset as her father was in and out of prison for a string of violent crimes.

However, she has credited his side of the family, as well as her mum, with supporting her and her brother, and ensuring their lives remained as normal as possible throughout.

"I did visit my dad in jail up until I was about 10,” she told The Guardian. However, she then made the decision to distance herself from him.

“I realised that I don’t want to dedicate my time to visiting somebody who doesn’t want to dedicate their time to staying out of jail," she added.

Maya filmed a Channel 5 documentary in 2017, where she made the difficult decision to reconnect with him and try to understand him more.

Maya told the news outlet that those tough years ultimately made her "more determined to prove everybody else wrong" and explained: “My upbringing was not very… I think, statistically, the things that happened to me, or the situation I was born into, I shouldn’t have been where I am now."

Tragically, Maya went on to experience a horrendous heartbreak when she was just 16, when her boyfriend, Rico Gordon, was killed in a shooting.

Maya was on the phone to him at the time, when he was caught in the crossfire between two gangs.

“I went through a lot. With my boyfriend passing, it gave me a fearless approach. I felt like life was really short," she told Cosmopolitan UK.

“At 16 you think the world is a fairytale and it took me out of that. It made me even more determined. If it hadn’t been for going through those difficulties, my whole perception of life would be different.

“Statistically I should have gone off the rails then, and it feels like my career was the thing that saved that from happening. I had hope and there was something to look forward to."

Londoner Rico was visiting Maya in Bristol when he was killed. She later went on TV’s Crimewatch to appeal for witnesses.

Two men were jailed for life for his murder.

Climbing the TV ladder

Maya made the move from Bristol to London at 16 in order to pursue her broadcasting career and set up her own YouTube channel, alongside landing a gig as a presenter for JumpOff.TV.

On the TTYA Talks podcast, she opened up about struggling for cash as a student in London before she hit the big time.

“I was bumping trains. I used to get super dressed up and be like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve forgotten my Oyster’ and blag my way through the train station," she said.

“I used to wear outfits and then take them back. I did all the tricks to make it appear like I had money. I had nothing so I was more determined to make it.

"Now I’ve just moved into my house. I’m the first person in my immediate family to own a house."

She soon headed to MTV and later gained popularity when she hosted a travelogue called Copa 90's Maya's FIFA World Cup Cities during the 2014 World Cup.

In 2017 she became the youngest person ever to co-host the Mobo Awards and from there she was picked up by Radio 1 and landed her first telly presenting gig, on MTV’s True Love Or True Lies.

Falling head over heels for Stormzy

While Maya was making major waves in her own career, she shot to stardom practically overnight when she began a relationship with Stormzy.

The pair dated in secret for over a year before they slowly began going public with their romance in 2016.

And they were soon head over heels, with the rapper even dedicating his song Birthday Girl to her on her 22nd birthday – something which she said was a "great present because it will last forever".

She has made appearances in some of his music videos, including Big For Your Boots, and the pair would regularly make red carpet appearances together.

Prior to their split, Stormzy was ready to propose to his other half. He told the Sunday Mirror: "I’m still so young but I want to propose, it’s going to happen and I will do it right. She is so sick, she is the best."

Sadly it wasn't to be, and the pair split towards the end of last year.

In an interview on the TTYA Talks podcast, she said: "I don’t allow myself to be down in the dumps about things that are out of my control like my break up."

Instagram fame and clothing star

Maya hasn't let her break-up stop her epic rise to fame, however, and has continued to go from strength to strength on TV and with her work in the fashion industry.

The star, who now has 1.9 million followers on Instagram, has a Pretty Little Thing range, and has also modelled for and worked with Kurt Geiger, Gap and Adidas – while starring in a JD Sports Christmas Campaign.

Meanwhile, her company MIJ & Co has £1.3million in the bank, she's modelled for Freya lingerie and she is set to launch her own skincare range this year.

Proving her epic success in fashion, she won the People's Choice Award for best dressed star in November 2019.

Glam jet-setting lifestyle now

Maya is now regularly seen enjoying the proceeds of her hard work, jetting across the globe for sunny breaks with friends and for work – often in First Class or even by private jet.

Earlier this year she headed to Ibiza with friends in complete luxury, taking photos of their private jet and sipping drinks together.

She often shares bikini snaps from sunny breaks abroad and luxury hotels, and also has an extensive wardrobe at home which she shows off to fans too.

After splitting from Stormzy, Maya moved into her own beautiful London home, and she's given fans a few glimpses inside on Instagram – revealing a large balcony, pristine kitchen cabinets, huge mirrors, a spacious bedroom and stylish grey furniture.

However, she's also regularly praised by fans for her funny posts and staying true to herself. And she told Grazia she's always tried to ensure she shows the real her on social media.

"When I started [on social media], 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," she told the mag.

"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."

She also regularly uses her platform to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other causes close to her heart, spreading awareness and encouraging her supporters to speak openly about major issues.

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