With over 900K followers on TikTok and over 200K on Instagram, we sat down with viral Lebanese Canadian TikTok creator Maya Hussein who gave us an exclusive interview on her journey of being a creator and good ol’ advice on being true to yourself and following your passions!
What did you do before you started creating videos? And why did you decide to leave your early job and create videos?
Before I started creating videos, I was working at a gym in London, Ont. and I quit my job right before COVID-19 started because there was not much space for me to grow in that job. When COVID happened, I was without a job, and people told me about TikTok. Funny enough, nobody really said that you should make videos, it was more like, “hey check out TikTok it has awesome videos to watch.” After checking out TikTok, I thought it was a cool app, so I started playing with it and I guess… my videos kind of blew up.
How has your life changed because of this?
My life changed drastically, from people recognizing me on the streets and really appreciating the person that I am today. I have always wondered if people love me for me, and I am being myself on camera: how I dress, how I look, and how I speak are how I am every day in life. Seeing people around the world love that unfiltered and relatable persona made me happy, and made me realize that I do not ever want to change “ME”.
Use three words/phrases to describe your life before you started creating content?
“Busy”, “Spontaneous”, “ Fun.”
I like to have fun with my friends and family, and I like to make people laugh.
Use three words to describe your life after you start creating content.
“Excited”, “Busy”, “Responsibility.”
I am busier now than ever because I now work at a school, as a kindergarten early childhood education (ECE) teacher, and on top of that, I have social media accounts I need to run.
I definitely feel that I have more responsibilities now. I have a full-time job, and I need to always come up with new and fresh content all the time and do all the behind-the-scenes videotaping and editing, so I feel busier now, but am also excited at the same time.
How would you describe the type of content you are creating right now? What messages do you want your audiences to get from your videos?
Basically, I am showing what life looks like to be a Middle Eastern person. By doing that, I am also sharing my culture with the rest of the world so that people can have a better understanding of Middle Eastern culture. And sometimes it is amazing that people from different cultures can relate to my videos. I really appreciate and love my culture and I do not want our cultures to ever change because it has made us who we are today.
What inspired you to come up with the ideas for your videos?
My friends, family, all the Arabs around the world, and all the conversations I had with people. Since I travel a lot, I am naturally a curious extrovert who loves conversing with people. I always get inspired by people and all the conversations that I have had.
How much do you feel that you are connected to your culture?
I was born in Canada, but I feel like I was born in Lebanon. I am like the biggest Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) type of person. I am very connected with my culture. By working at the school and doing social media, I feel like a lot of people are kind of distant from their cultures. This saddens me because when our parents or grandparents are gone, we need to rely on ourselves to continue the path, the legacy, the language, and the culture.
Who do you look up to in your life?
My mother is the one that I look up to. For the people who know who she is, they know that she is a hard worker and does not stop. She puts passion into everything she does, and even has this drive when she is in pain. My mom told me that:
“Maya, if you don’t do something from the heart, don’t do it at all.”Maya Hussein
I always follow her motto. She really has a passion for what she does, and you can see it in her eyes. My mother is the type of person I want to be, to be able to put my heart not into just my videos but to the people around me as well. I would also like to mention my grandmas, they’ve passed away, but they are personalities that I often take after in my videos. They have inspired me to be funny, be emotional, and not be afraid to be the real “ME.”.
How would you describe yourself?
I put myself as a comedian influencer, and that’s how I describe myself because roughly 98% of my videos are comedy. I am also very much into humanitarian work. It is a different obsession you get when you know you are able to help people around the world and know that your impact has affected people watching you to help and donate money.
I am grateful that people are trusting my word, and they want to help and follow up with the projects that I am being a part of. For example, I partnered up with Canadian Cedars of Hope to collect money and give out the food packages to Lebanese households that will last for about two to three weeks during the months of Ramadan.
What messages do you want your audiences to get from your videos?
“To be themselves”Maya Hussein
I want my followers to be themselves and be brave enough to do what they love. When you are having fun doing something you love, it just comes naturally. When I was younger, I wanted to play sports such as basketball and soccer, and I am actually really good at them. But, I feel like my cultural practices stopped me from pursuing it. I got a ton of people in my way who told me “no, you should not do it.” I just feel like that with a lot of people who try to do something out of the “societal norm,” their parents will come in the way and say “no”. So I want to say to my followers to “follow your dreams,” even if thousands have tried to bring you down.
What do you want to say to your followers?
I want my fans to know that I am approachable and am not afraid to be approached.
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