5 tips from Maya Jama on getting into media and presenting
Opportunities in the media can be hard to come by, with positions in journalism and presenting often taken up by Oxbridge graduates and a shockingly low number of people of colour.
But with the rise of the internet, and self-made platforms, there are now more opportunities to cut your teeth in the industry.
Maya Jama’s route to presenting for 4Music, Rinse FM, Copa 90 and now ITV was a somewhat unconventional one, and she’s given us some tips on how to get started if you dream of working in the media or presenting.
1. Talk to anyone and everyone
Maya moved to London at 16 from Bristol and only knew a couple of people. But it didn’t take long for her to make some of the connections that would see her land her first presenting job.
“Coming from Bristol everyone knows each other, and I was used to being the chatty one and the loud one, so when I came to London it was like my oyster. I chatted to everyone in sight, and in London it’s not hard to find someone doing something that you want to do.
“I nearly immediately met camera menand people like that, and once I was around Jump Off I was like ‘shit this is a proper place where you can make videos’.
“I was going to the live shows and I met loads of media and music industry people, and I made sure I told everyone what I wanted to do – ‘I wanna be a presenter’ – because you never know who knows who and who can help in some way.”
2. Back yourself, and know it will be hard
There might have been a time Maya was ready to give up, but it seems like pride wouldn’t let her.
“Once I’d done a bit and started posting on Facebook like ‘yeah I’m working at Jump Off’ I felt like shit I cannot go back to Bristol now because everyone would be like ‘you said you’re doing so well, why are you coming back?’”
Sticking it out definitely worked out – Maya’s first prime time TV show launches later this year – but it had a lot of challenges.
“I always forget how hard it was, because it seemed like everything happened so quickly, but I was bumping trains, pretending I lost my Oyster, running on buses and stuff to get back and forth – even walking from King’s Cross to Ladbroke Grove once.”
“I did all the right stuff, worked like three jobs, and did everything I needed to do for like a year-and-a-half, nearly two, and finally got a paid job at Copa 90 – and I was like ‘shit, this is real’”.
3. Dedicate your time
The same goes for working in media as it does for any other craft – the more time you spend practising something the better you’ll be at it.
“I wasn’t good when I first joined Jump Off. I didn’t join as a presenter, first I was just helping around in the office and doing little things. And then they’d let me use their cameras and go upstairs and shoot videos, but I wasn’t a good presenter.
“I look back at some of the videos that are online now and I was shit, but I was learning as I was doing it.
“That’s the best way to learn, just record yourself. If it’s for radio, record yourself on your voice note. If it’s visuals film yourself and then watch back. I literally looked back at the Jump Off videos the other day and was like ‘what the fuck’. And I thought I was sick.
“It’s always a learning curve.”
And,Maya says don’t be disheartened if you don’t have relevant qualifications.
“Most of the time they don’t ask for your qualifications they ask for how much experience you have.”
4. Don’t take the Nos personally
Rejection will happen, without a doubt, but the key is to ask for feedback and keep trying.
“However good you are at the time is how you’re gonna get work, so at every screen test you have you have to be the best and impress everyone.
“It’s really competitive and it gets hard, because you’re getting judged on yourself.
“With acting and stuff I always say you’re getting judged on your role as somebody else, but getting judged as a presenter is personal because it’s your personality.
“You just have to accept that sometimes the Nos aren’t because you’re bad, sometimes it’s because it just wasn’t right for you.”
5. Appreciate the journey
Maya’s final point was this.
“It’s really hard nowadays because you always see the end goal, but yeah, appreciate your journey and understand it will be really hard at one point but you’ll look back and be like ‘ah I needed to learn that, I needed to go through that struggle’, because you appreciate so much more when you actually get to the place you wanted.
“And set yourself little goals as well, like mini-goals to achieve, like ‘okay I wanna do that by next year’.”
For opportunities in media and the creative industries, Creative Access is a good place to look for internships, GoThinkBig often has good opportunities, and never be afraid to reach out to platforms and people you admire to find out if they’ve got anything going.
And watch Maya in the new Nando’s series here.