Humanitarian and veteran broadcast Journalist Maia Chung is indeed a force to be reckoned with. She started writing in the Jamaica Gleaner at the age of ten. She has been nominated for numerous awards in journalism and where she has not won the award she has been nominated for it. She is also a model, a published author, fashion designer and a film producer. Many might know her for her foundation, the Maia Chung Autism foundation which is the first of its kind in Jamaica. She recently came to Jamaican Divas’ attention when she became Jamaica’s youngest General Manager for a local free to air station. This is a new television station called Mello TV which is located in Montego Bay.
What inspired you to go into broadcasting?
I was originally trained in print, it was while mixing with professionals in the Jamaican media landscape in both radio and T.V. who saw potential in me, that I was encouraged to try broadcasting. I love the idea of continuous evolution of the person so I decided to take the advice.
How long have you known you wanted to do that (broadcasting)?
I literally knew I wanted to work in broadcast after being encouraged. I never aspired to be on radio or television. In fact, while at CARIMAC studying print, I swore while in the print lab one day I would never work on television (Chuckles).
Tell us about your broadcasting career?
My broadcasting career has been very successful; with me starting at the bottom and now literally (while still in my thirties) reaching the top. It has fostered my life as a published author with books sold globally, working as a philanthropist and autism advocate and has enabled a fuller growth of me in the media business as I also have a film company that will be releasing its first feature length film June 2016 …The movie is called Jamrock Assassin and I star in it. My film company Maia Chung Film and Stage Prodctions has the executive production. Currently I am the Chief Executive Officer of my own Maia Chung Television. In 2014 I was the Anchor/News Producer for Digicel Sportsmax which Broadcasts to the Tri-State Area in the United States and Ontario Canada.
So did you push to become the General Manager of Cornwall Broadcasting Limited, or were you approached?
I was approached.
What has it been like being the General Manager of Mello TV so far?
To date very challenging I am woman in a man’s world, a lot of pressure is on me and the Mello Television team, it is historic to have a national free to air station operating out of Jamaica’s second city.
Any anecdotes (stories) about life in broadcasting?
Yeah sometimes you gain a certain level of stardom yourself. Once a policeman said he had a story I could follow up on. I was walking by and he recognized me from TV. He was in a squad car, a journalist has to protect her sources so he beckoned me to lean forward as the info was super confidential. I leaned in and he used his tongue and licked my ear ewwwwwwww.
What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
The personal and professional goals collide I aim to team lead Mello Television to be the most successful entity of its kind in Jamaica
Let’s talk a bit about your personal life, when did you realize that your son had autism?
From about 18 months he’s my fourth son so I had a frame of reference for developmental goals.
What has surprised you the most about parenting a child who has autism?
How anxious it can make you all day everyday
What propelled you to establish the Autism and Disabilities Foundation?
I wanted to learn as much as I could about Autism in Jamaica, I thought through a Foundation while I was helping my son I could help others, I like helping people.
What support has the foundation have been able to garner from the government, medical and business communities?
The government of Jamaica gave the foundation prime property for “pepper corn” rent. This year there was a fundraiser in New York which was sponsored by Zingflash Films to build a secretariat and Autism centre which would cater to the clients of The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation. This initiative hopes to get the Jamaican diaspora more involved in fund raising activities by the foundation.
What changes have you seen over the years in Jamaica in terms of resources and support for parents of children with autism?
My foundation’s awareness efforts have seen an increase in resources geared towards Autism affected families, it is not nearly enough though.
What advice would you give a parent who has a developmentally or mentally challenged child?
Never give up on your son or daughter no matter what assails them.
What advice would you give to an aspiring journalist?
Don’t do it unless you truly understand and love the profession or you will be very unhappy.
As this is a women’s magazine how would you describe your style?
Eclectic – sometimes I am corporate – punk, thug I have my own clothing line, it is couture it is called Maia Sez that is very traditional in design and very lady like and professional. This line helps to raise money for Autism subsequently developed into a Couture line from which 50 percent of profits will go towards helping the Autistic and Disabled.
What is the one thing that very few people know about you?
I am obsessed with the stories of some of the world’s serial killers such as Dahmer Gacy, Chikatilo and Ted Bundy.
What life lessons have you learned along the way?
Never give up until you die and use every challenge to make your life better.