Interview with Maya Jama: SU2C 2021

Category: Press Pack Article

You’re back doing Stand Up to Cancer. How was the experience, first time around?
It was amazing. I feel like that was one of my first big, proper, main channel events, and I was so nervous but so excited. It was amazing. It was super fun, it’s all over in the blink of an eye, you have so much time preparing, you wind yourself up in your mind about how things are going to go, and you hope to raise as much money as possible, and then literally, like that, it’s done. But it’s such an incredible event, I had an incredible time, and I’m super, super happy to be back.

How does it feel doing it a second time around? Can you relax a bit more?
You would think that, but I think every time you do something so big, it’s always a nervous feeling. I was speaking to Davina downstairs, she’s literally my idol, and I’ve never worked with her before, let alone been on the same set as her, so even this [the photoshoot] is overwhelming for me, let alone the main event. So I’m pinching myself a little bit, I think.

You’ve talked a lot about what a hero Davina is to you. Why is that?
She was the first woman that I saw on TV that just seemed so fun and genuine and free, and I wanted to be exactly like that. I think she’s the perfect example of someone that looks like they’re having the best time when they’re doing something. She’s got this amazing energy, and I just grew up watching her. I said “I want to do that job” after seeing her do things. So it’s a massive, massive moment for me just to be around her.

What’s it like to be reunited with Adam and Alan?
They’re both absolute legends. Same thing, I grew up watching them both on TV. They’re super professional, they’re the ones that you want to learn tips from. And, of course, they’re super funny as well. I’m in such a fortunate position, where I get to be around such established people, and learn tips from them, and see how they do certain things. It feels like I’ve won a competition, basically!

Why is SU2C so important to you?
It does so much to battle cancer. I’ve had family members that have suffered from cancer. My grandma survived, but my great uncle passed away from it, so it’s something really close to my heart. The best thing we can do is shows like these, to raise as much money as we can. You’ve seen over the years how much impact Stand Up to Cancer has on battling cancer and the extraordinary lifesaving research that is being done, to help us get one step closer to hopefully beating it forever.

The hugely sad news about Sarah Harding came out recently. It’s a reminder that cancer can strike at any age, isn’t it?
A hundred per cent. I think that’s the scariest thing. Pretty much everyone I know has had somebody affected by cancer, whether it’s immediate family, partners, or friends, it can happen to anyone. I was so sad to hear about Sarah. She was an icon.

I know details are vague, but can you talk about anything that will happen on the night?
My favourite thing about Stand Up to Cancer is, as much as we are raising money for a serious cause, and you do see things that are going to pull on your heart strings and make you feel sad, there are also loads of fun elements, and something to put a smile on your face, and something to make you laugh as well as touch your heart at the same time – as weird as that sounds. You’ll be on a rollercoaster of emotions – one minute you’re crying, the next minute you’re wetting yourself, then you’ll be really serious about something.

What have been your favourite moments from SU2C in the past?
I love the comedy sketches. I love it when they re-enact scenes from films with a twist. The comedy bits are brilliant.

How do you control your emotions on the night?
It’s hard, it’s very hard, and we speak about it beforehand. If you do get emotional, you’re allowed, it’s not a show where they tell you to hold in your emotions. If something hits you, you’re allowed to cry, and I’m sure a lot of people at home will be feeling exactly the same things as you are there in the room and saying the words and seeing the clips live. You don’t really know what’s going to happen or how you’ll react.

Do you try and watch the videos beforehand, or are you seeing them for the first time when you’re up there?
It depends. Some of the really, really sad ones I might watch before, just in case.

Is it difficult to strike the balance between the sadness of those clips and the comedy stuff? How do you make sure it doesn’t jar?
I think that’s when you really have to put your presenter skills to the test, of getting the tone right, and knowing when to laugh at something and when to get your serious face on. It’s super hard, because never in real life are you having to make a joke about something, and then talk about people passing. It’s just not really natural. But I’m learning from the best.

You’ve done a lot of live presenting, but it must be quite terrifying, fronting something that is live and, by nature, quite chaotic?
Yeah. I think the best thing about live TV is you get the adrenaline, it’s like you’re performing. Anything can happen, the emotions are high, the adrenaline is running, it’s like a buzz I get from live TV, and I think other people would say the same. But in the same way, anything can go wrong. You could mess up your career on a live night if you did something really bad, you never know. Let me just touch some wood!

How will you prepare for the night?
I will read over my script as much as possible, we’ve got some rehearsal time. I usually watch clips from previous years. And I’ll just pray I get as much sleep as possible. I feel like if you’re energy is right, and you’ve got the good spirit inside of you, things usually go well.

How will you wind down, at the end of it?
With a glass of wine. I just sit, usually. I’ll maybe call up my best friend or boyfriend, ask what they thought of it. And I don’t usually sleep after something live until really late. You’ve got all the adrenaline. So it’s usually a 4am bedtime, you’re just sat in your house calming down.