Love Island’s Maya Jama’s ‘string of heartbreak’ means she’s perfect for role

She will make her debut next week as the new presenter of Love Island, and we can reveal that Maya Jama is keen to do it her own way as she follows in the footsteps of Laura Whitmore and the late Caroline Flack.

According to our sources, Maya, 28, is aware they’re hard acts to follow, but she doesn’t want to be a carbon copy of the ITV2 reality dating show’s previous two presenters.

“Maya knows she has big boots to fill taking over from Laura and the job comes with pressure, so she’s naturally nervous. But she’s a great host and really wants to make the role her own,” a source told us.

Maya’s new presenting gig was announced in October after Laura, 37, quit the role in August, saying there were “certain elements” of the show she found “difficult” due to the format, including flying back and forth
to South Africa as well as it conflicting with new projects.

Laura, who is married to Love Island narrator Iain Stirling and has a 20-month-old daughter with him, said, “There was only so much I can do as a host – I couldn’t support them [the Islanders] or not support them. I couldn’t say anything. So you kind of have to go quiet and that was hard for me because I like to be able to have those conversations.”

Laura – who hosted the show for three years – took over from Caroline, who was the presenter between 2015 and 2019 before stepping down in December 2019, two months before she died.

Our source said that despite Maya’s hopes to bring her own style and tone to the role, she does share similarities with Caroline’s much-loved presenting style. Much like Caroline, Maya’s tumultuous love life has been well-documented and our source thinks her lived experience will help her empathise with the contestants’ dating woes.

They explained, “She’s quite similar to Caroline in the sense that she hasn’t had the most smooth-sailing love life. She’s very warm and relatable. She wants to be on the girls’ level and support them, as she’s gone through heartache.

“She’ll be really sensitive with them all. That’s part of the reason why bosses wanted her. She’s proven she’s a very good presenter. She’s very likeable.”

Maya was in a relationship with rapper Stormzy between 2015 and 2019 and their break-up inspired his 2019 song Lessons. The pair reportedly briefly rekindled their romance in November after being spotted looking close in a private VIP area at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

However, Maya later denied they had reunited romantically, with a representative for her insisting they remain “great friends”. Maya – who was also engaged to basketball player Ben Simmons for eight months last year – has since been linked to R&B singer Giveon.

The star – who also presented BBC Three’s Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star and MTV show True Love Or True Lies – has been working out ahead of the first episode of the winter series, which starts on 16 January and is filmed in South Africa.

“She’s been hitting the gym and working out,” the source added. “She wants to look her best. She’s going to have the most sensational outfits ever. She loves her fashion and they’re definitely going to be the talk of the show.”

Love Island returns on Monday 16 January, 9pm, ITV2

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