The Nomination: Balancing school, friends, and extracurricular activities can be difficult for any 14-year-old. But most 14-year-olds don’t also have a busy acting career, a published children’s book, and a full schedule of motivational speaking appearances, radio co-hosting along with radio & TV interviews.
Then again, Maya Jai isn’t like most 14-year-olds.
With over a dozen acting credits to her name, Maya Jai is a native Washingtonian and high-school freshman who has already made a name for herself across an impressive spectrum of media. Not only is Maya starring in an upcoming new TV series, “Dads Do It, Too,” and co-hosting the radio segment of “Voices of Our Teens “, but she also finds time to speak to children and adults alike about the importance of balancing work and play in their lives with her method of “Stop, Drop, Work, Then Play “.
Maya certainly has the experience to back up her words. On top of her busy professional schedule, she’s also maintains a high GPA. This talent and passion for achievement has led to Maya being featured in Washington Post Magazine, AFRO Newspaper, the WJLA TV news network, and as BMore Lifestyle’s ‘Go Girl of the Week’ in addition to a wide variety of other print, radio and TV segments.
Considering all this, it might be tempting to ask if there’s anything Maya can’t do. But with someone this accomplished at such a young age, there’s an even more fitting question.
What will she do next?
1. How did you become interested in acting? I started modeling in magazine ads at the age of 1. I played basketball, volley ball, lacrosse and softball but around 11 years old, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to explore acting and film like my older sister and my mom.
2. How do you manage your time with all of your different activities? In addition to being a children's book author, I've always had a lot of extracurricular activities and I know that balancing a heavy schedule isn't always easy so, I came up with a solution that I call "Stop, Drop, Work, then Play". The method is a pretty easy one to remember;" Stop what you're doing", "Drop what you are doing" "Work on your assignment" Then you can Play or have leisure time. When I saw that some of my peers could use that method and I figured if you started developing that habit at a younger age it would become your first thought so, I incorporated my motto into my book Back Pack Lilly. The summary of the book is Back Pack Lilly teaches kids how to prioritize their studying and school work over extracurricular activities and playing.
3. What advice would you give to others about getting involved in many different opportunities? If you're interested in getting involved do some research to make sure that it's really something that you want to try. You can pursue whatever opportunities your heart desires. Just remember that you have to develop a plan and with discipline and consistency you can make it work. Incorporate Stop, Drop, Work then Play in your daily routine and remember you should pace yourself and no matter how hard it gets, you can do it - just keep pushing and never give up!
4. How has radio-co-hosting impact you? Voices of our Teens (VOOT as we like to call it [smile]) has definitely inspired me to keep working harder towards my goals. It allows me to be expressive, creative and inspirational all of which helps me in the classroom, my motivational speaking and acting. I love being able to give teens a platform to speak from their hearts on the issues that’s impacting them negatively and positively. The host and I also give them advice on various ways to approach certain situations. The host Archie, is a great mentor and pushes me to better myself and to never give up.
5. With all your different commitments how are you able to go out and do things with your friends? I have a schedule that I check daily and I always make sure my school work is done. Depending on the event that's coming up, I generally plan my activities around them. Yes, there are times that I might miss out on some things but prioritizing my schedule leaves me time for a healthy social life. Besides I have a fun family and group of friends (I like to prank them) so, we really don't miss a beat.
It is almost impossible for me to put into words how powerful the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C was. I attended the event with a group called the Bucks County Youth Council, a teen group in bucks county affiliated with the Bucks County Links Incorporated dedicated to grooming teens into tomorrow's leaders today.
Our day started off rough with the delay of our bus, but improved quickly when the bus arrived to JFK early, and our chaperones bought each us matching shirts to rep the cause. We made our signs, zipped our coats, and were finally ready to march.
While on the metro I couldn’t help but think about the history cemented into the concrete of the capital, all the way from Martin’s March on Washington to the most recent Women's March in 2018, and I knew in that moment that we were going to be apart of history. Anytime a person or a group of people can bring a crowd together to unite around one a common goal is impressive--but when that group of people are high school students, who have picked themselves up from something so tragic and turned their story into more than just a statistic but a revolution.
The students from Stoneman Douglas High School are an inspiration to kids like me and all over the world. The whole crowd could feel the passion in their voices when sharing their stories. You could literally see the tenacity in their cause by just the simple look on their faces. These kids aren’t joking, and they certainly aren’t afraid of a challenge. The issue of gun control in America is one that has crippled society since the authoring of the constitution itself, and while it is no longer 1787 Americans are still allowed the same freedom with weapons that they were when African-Americans were deemed ⅗ of a person.
And while in past years the issue of the second amendment was deemed a strictly political matter, the intellectuals that spoke at the march made it clear that this is no longer about politics, it’s a matter of life or death, it’s about the bigger picture. And while it makes me so happy to see students my age getting their voices heard on such a monumental level, I couldn’t help but think about the kids who have, and continue to live through vile acts of gun violence everyday, and these kids don’t get the same amount of likes and retweets, because of the zip code on their mailboxes, and the color of their skin.
But what was so admirable to me about the students of Stoneman Douglas, was that they got on that stage and said to the world that they know they did not start this fight, and that where they come from had a huge factor in the platform they were given--but they choose to share their stage. They said in their speeches that they are going to use their privilege to help the black and brown kids, and use their resources to speak the truths of the students who have been silenced.
The crowd surrounding me was amazed. I heard someone in the crowd say “ wow, this is the generation that is going to do it,” and after hearing Martin Luther King’s granddaughter come out and say “I have a dream that enough is enough” I knew that this march was going to change things.
This march made me proud to be 18 in 2018. I had always been invested into politics and dedicated to social justice, but this march sparked something different in me. It wasn’t that it inspired me to do more, because I know that there is always work to be done to better society, but this march showed me that there is no reason why I can’t make a difference in this world.
17 kids died because in America everyone has the right to bear arms. 17 mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are without their loved ones because in America it is easier to get a gun then it is to obtain cold medicine.
I am so proud to have stood with over 800,000 people in Washington D.C on March 24th, and I am so proud to be of the generation that gets congress to pay attention. We are the kids of America, and we will use our first amendment rights to make sure that guns are put into the hands of only those who are worthy of the responsibility.