Empowered Pasifika Women: Maiya Thompson

There are times that our community will dismiss young people. Sometimes they are told that they should “be seen and not heard.” But, I believe that is silencing vital voices that we need to hear. Thankfully, there are people like Maiya Thompson who are trailblazing a pathway. They are creating spaces for more of our community to be heard. 

As a writer on The SIS Show, she is creating stories that resonate with many in the community. If you saw the show, you might recognize one of the episodes she wrote. It was the scene where there was a group of guys and gals gathered around a kava bowl discussing the topic of gender equality. What I love about this scene is that through humor, very serious subjects are talked about and brought to light. The fact that women each month are paying extra money for female sanitary items, the pay wage gap, etc. And, the men brought up good points too. Speaking on things like the draft. This show may be shot and written in New Zealand, but being able to relate to the message is worldwide. I’m very grateful for amazing creatives like Maiya who are learning from leaders like the head of SIS, Hanelle. It shows that the torch of progress will not extinguish but will be carried on and handed down generation to generation. 

I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to talk with her via Zoom and help share her story with you. Here is a little bit about Maiya:

EMPOWERED THROUGH UPLIFTING REPRESENTATION 

Sipping Koko: In your own words, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Maiya: I’m a Cancer. I am huge on representation, a big film lover – story lover. I’ve always wanted to be writer and write stories about my siblings and me. We are never really seen on screen. I’m the oldest of eight. I’m Samoan/Chinese/English. I love my job and I’m still learning. I’m aspiring to be like Hanelle and create amazing content like her.

Sipping Koko: What sparked you to go down this path?
Maiya: As a kid, I made lots of home movies with my siblings and that kind of sparked my journey. I wanted to be an actor when I was younger, but it was a teacher who told me I was good at writing. I was lucky as a teenager I knew what I wanted to do. I just directed all my studies towards that pathway.

I went to Hawai’i for a one year exchange at UH (University of Hawai’i) which was a big thing for me. That was so empowering as a person. It was the first I wasn’t a minority. Plus, with my age and mix, I looked local and it was such a cool feeling. Moana also came out that year which was a life changing moment for many people including me. I think that movie made me really feel I do exist in this world. That has always suck with me about what I want to make, and SIS is all about that.

After working for Power Rangers a couple of years, it was really awesome to learn my craft that way, but not in terms of what I want to do and the things I care about. Like all these intersections of being a brown woman – being brown and queer. That still being determined and decided by all these older, white EPs on the show. I got tired of it quite quickly. So, thankful that an opportunity like SIS was there to dedicate all my time and energy. That’s what continues to inspire me.

Sipping Koko: If a young Pasifika girl asked you, “Why is it important to empower other Pasifika women?” What would you tell her?
Maiya: Because I would want to be empowered by other Pasifika women. Because you know what inspires you and validates you as a person. The people who have that power are the people who look like you or have the same lived experience.

Sipping Koko: Who do you look up to as role models?
Maiya: Family. My mom and nanas – a strong matriarchal line there. They’re good storytellers themselves and continuing that.

Sipping Koko: What song empowers you?
Maiya: Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lavoto

Sipping Koko: What movie brings you inspiration?
Maiya: Princess and the Frog

Sipping Koko: What is one quote that you think of when needing encouragement?
Maiya: Any of our proverbs.

Sipping Koko: What is your advice to Pasifika women who are on the journey to empowerment?
Maiya: For me, being able to surround myself with other Pacific people and allies who empower you and create safe spaces to find what you need to find. When you’re around people who have the best intentions for you, that’s where you can organically find what you want to do and your purpose.

I am so excited for the amazing projects Maiya is going to do. She is learning from one of the best in the industry, and I know that the skills she is sharpening now will launch her onto success. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend talking with her about her story and her hopes for the future. You don’t want to miss out on anything she will accomplish. So, be sure to follow her on social media and support the work she is doing!

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