Have you ever been good at something but realized it wasn’t what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Like many of us, Maiya found herself feeling fatigued from her career as a makeup artist and was ready to pivot in a new direction in her life. From this, her alter ego “The Don” was born. I sat down with Maiya The Don to learn all about her past and what she has in store for the future.  

Many people may not know that you grew up in the foster care system. Talk to us about your early upbringing and how growing up in these conditions shaped the young woman you are today.   

I know a lot of people will say you are a product of your environment, but I never really agreed with that. I never felt like I was a victim of anything. I always took it as; this is how I grew up and it may be different from other people but I’m not going to victimize myself or allow that to limit me. I’ve always had big ideas and dreams for myself, so I take the cards I was dealt and that makes me unique.  

As an Afro-Latina woman you not only have black culture but Puerto Rican culture as well. What do you love about your culture and how does it influence your fashion, music and beauty?   

I do plan on incorporating Spanish music into my own. I’m very proud of where my family comes from. My confidence, pride and self-worth were instilled in me by my grandmother from an early age. I like to always look put together and I don’t want to be seen if I’m not done up!  The women in my family are very hyper feminine, wearing heels while cooking or running errands so I think that’s why I’m so girly. Right now it’s not a lot of my music out for people to see my full range as an artist so I’m really excited to show that.

Photograph By: Shaun-Andru

You started off as a makeup artist working with clients all over the tristate area. Once the pandemic hit your makeup career came to a sudden halt and you had to figure out how to make money, so you got on TikTok. Take us back to this time and talk about how you got into content creating.   

I came to a point where I no longer wanted to service people. Lots of service professionals aren’t the best at customer service so I didn’t want to start getting bad reviews because I was no longer interested in having clients.  

I still loved being creative and doing makeup, so I began content creating. I was consistently posting myself doing makeup, but it became stagnant until I started treating TikTok like Snapchat by talking more and just being myself. My makeup was always on point so that helped a lot too. Then I started product reviews, and my followers grew fast.  

Once I saw that I could monetize my platform I began promoting small businesses and pretty much making commercials, using those metrics to pitch myself to bigger and smaller brands I wanted to work with. Once the money was coming in, I stuck with it for about a year.  

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a content creator but is struggling to gain a consistent audience?  

Honestly, I always tell people we have enough influencers LOL. I was in school during that time, so it was never end game for me. I wasn’t working because of the pandemic and needed money in the meantime. I always knew it wasn’t a lifestyle I wanted to sustain so that’s why I quickly turned it into something else.  

So, unless you are waking up and love editing, recording and have a burning passion for it, so make sure it’s what you really seeing yourself doing long term. Also create content around things you already love doing instead of copying someone else. I loved doing makeup and being creative and that’s why it worked out for me.

Photograph By: Nicole Guillen

You always had a love for songwriting growing up but never took it seriously. Once you got fatigued from content creating you started going to your manager’s studio and cultivating your sound as an artist. What made you want to start freestyling and try rap more seriously? Talk about how Maiya The Don was born from this time in your life.   

I had a friend who was already making music, he introduced me to a guy who owned a studio. So, I would go with a bunch of friends from school and the studio owner came up to me one day and said that I should rap. It was interesting that he said it to me because I wasn’t thinking about music at all, so I was like if you don’t get out my face LOL. He later ended up becoming my manager!  

It did put a battery in my back once he said that though because I have always loved music, so I was like let me give it a try… He taught me how to rap on beat, pushed me to get better and he really believed in me. So, when Telfy took off I asked him to help me more as an artist. Since he nurtured my desire to be a musician early on, it only felt right that I asked him to become my manager.  

When we think about hip-hop it’s impossible to leave New York out of the conversation. As a Brooklyn Native, tell us about how your upbringing influenced your music.   

Oh man, my whole existence is about being from New York. I’m so New York it’s painful! I feel like it limits me in a way. I learned the steps to be a good rapper early on like understanding bars, rapping on beat, things that increase your skills. Putting pen to pad and writing your music helps your rhythm. So, when I say limited, I may see things and feel it’s corny because of being from New York. Dressing the way I do with heavy influence from Lil Kim, Foxy Brown. There’s so much intention behind the things I say, who I work with and the beats I choose to rap on.  

via @maiyathedonn on Instagram

The first time I heard of your music was with your debut single “Telfy”, which was about the black owned fashion brand Telfar. Talk about how you created this song and the creative process of shooting the music video.   

I made the song from a really old beat that my manager had for a few years. So, when I heard it, I wrote the song in 2 hours it just felt so natural. At this point I was writing at least a song a day, so I was able to record it quickly.  

A month later Telfar was trending because he put his purses in Rainbow, and everyone was talking about it. My manager named the song because at first, I called it “The Don Song” instead of “The Thong Song”. So, when it was going viral, I was like oh let me tease the song.  

I kept making videos to the snippet and it blew up online. My manager was like it’s time to shoot a video, so I quickly shot it, and it came out about a week later. It was my first song and video, so I was on a budget paying for it all by myself. I wanted it to be simple and true to myself. So, I was like let me call up some homegirls and get this done. I got inspiration from an old Mary J. Blige video; it was quick and easy, and I didn’t have a marketing plan at all.  

When Cardi B co-signed “Telfy”, what was that moment like for you? Even though you already have a huge following on your own, did you notice a shift in engagement on social media after she cosigned it?   

It felt good! She followed me before I dropped Telfy and I was on a plane and started screaming LOL everyone was looking at me crazy, but I just couldn’t believe it. I love Cardi, she’s one of my favorite rappers as well as Megan and Latto. I’m heavily influenced by women rappers from NYC, so it felt great to be recognized by her. She acknowledged the song publicly way after that moment so I hope I can work with her one day.  

Photograph By: Nicole Guillen

This past December you were a part of Telfar’s Winter denim campaign which had to feel like a full circle moment from the release of your debut single in 2022. Talk about how this collaboration came about and your overall experience working with Telfar.   

It was so awesome! They hit me up a couple days after dropping the song. We hung out and I had a great time, Telfar Clemens and his team are so amazing and kind, I would work with them as much as possible!

You’ve worked with artists like Flo Milli, Lola Brooke, Ty Dolla Sign and Maeta – just to name a few. If you could pick your dream collabs, who would some of the artists be?   

Hmm, I feel like I’m always very vocal on who I’d like to work with! I would love to work with Summer Walker, SZA and Jazmine Sullivan even though I don’t know what we would do LOL. Chloe Bailey too I’m huge fan of hers, as well as the girl group FLO! As far as ultimate dream collab, I think Mary J. Blige or Faith Evans and Teyana Taylor, I need her to come out of retirement for me!  

via @maiyathedonn on Instagram

Aside from rapping, you’ve been a part of beauty brand collab with Topicals and I’m sure many more are in the works. What beauty brands would you like to work with in the future?   

Fenty! It’s one of my favorite brands! Huda Beauty and Cecred of course!  

XXL’s first all-women’s cypher curated by Latto, featuring Mello Buckzz, Monaleo and Flo Milli. Talk to us about how this came about and what this experience was like!   

So, Latto’s team reached out for me to do it, but I was preparing to go on tour with Flo Milli, along with my EP just dropping so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it initially. So, the day before they followed up and I was like sure I needed more publicity and they reached out to me personally, so I really wanted to be a part of it.  

I was nervous because I didn’t have much time to prepare for it like I wanted to, but I came and conquered! All the girls were warm and welcoming and with Latto being the Top 3 for me, it was great to be included.  

via @maiyathedonn on Instagram

 In the midst of preparing to go on tour and New York Fashion Week, you were a part of the BET Awards “On The Radar” rap cypher. Tell us about this experience and how you felt seeing your cypher air during the award show when it originally was supposed to be online only.   

I initially declined because it was only for social media, and I already did a freestyle to the “Put It On The Floor” beat. But since it was around my mixtape release date, I was like ok I gotta do it. So, on my flight from NYC to LA I wrote my cypher and it felt great when BET told me it would air during the awards!  

Last fall you released your debut mixtape “Hot Commodity” which features 11 songs that are very diverse and showcase your uniqueness as an artist. My personal favorite, “Art Basel” is an upbeat hip-hop record while “Call Me If Your Down” is a slower record paired with Maeta’s R & B vocals, showcasing how you can do love or turn up songs. Which song on this project was your favorite to create and which was the most challenging?   

My favorite song to create from this mixtape was “Into Myself”! It was so natural and quick to make, I like that song so much! I don’t think any song was challenging to make but “Body” took long because I kept changing my verses! I almost scraped it, but I ultimately decided to keep it. If you listen to my older vs. newer songs, you can hear the difference in my voice. I’ve learned how to use it better as an artist overtime.  

via @maiyathedonn on Instagram

 You’re currently in college while balancing a full-time rap career which is amazing. What are you in school for and how do you plan on using your degree once you graduate?  

I’m still in school but I’m kinda taking a semester off so I don’t fail school. I’ve invested so much time, energy and money into my education it is important for me to keep going. My major is in psychology, but I don’t think if anyone will want the girl rapping “Dusties” to be their therapist LOL, that digital footprint is a MF!  

Tell us about your new song and visual with Flo Milli that you just released. What was the inspiration behind the song and visual?

I wanted to make a song that women could feel empowered to, confident and blast it with your besties. And after the amazing experience I had on tour with Flo Milli, witnessing her firsthand, who better represents this but Flo? I know she would kill it on the remix and she delivered!

 Let’s talk about your favorite beauty products. What are your top 3 can’t live without items currently?   

My Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation or my Huda Beauty Faux Filter Foundation, I love Huda’s pressed powders too! Also Fenty Beauty Bronzer!  

via @maiyathedonn on Instagram

You switch up your hairstyles a lot but it’s safe to say the platinum blonde look is one of your go- to hair colors. How do you take care of your natural hair and what are a few of your favorite hair care products?   

Girl, I don’t touch it! My hair is so fragile, so I keep it moisturized and braided up! I listen to my scalp as much as possible. Keeping it clean and trimmed is the key for me as well as minimal heat as possible.  

What I admire about you as an artist is how you put on for the curvy baddies. Your hair, makeup and outfits are always on point. Have you always known how to put yourself together so effortlessly? What tips do you have for any women struggling to bring out their IT Girl Factor?   

I think this advice goes for everyone; you have to appreciate what you can do for yourself before anyone else can. Being secure within yourself will allow people to appreciate you because it can’t be faked. Complaining about things you aren’t working on fixing is pointless.  

What’s next for Maiya The Don? Do you have anything you can share with Galore readers on what we can expect from you this year?   

New music is coming very soon! I just dropped a new song and a few visuals from the Hot Commodity mixtape!


Photograph By: Nicole Guillen


Feature Editor: Taylor Winter Wilson (@taylorwinter)

Photographer: Nicole Guillen (@nickygphotography)

Photographer: Shaun-Andru (@shaunandru)

Stylist: Roxxane Brown (@rox_brown)

Makeup Artist: Layla (@__.layla)

Hair Stylist: Jalene Rodriguez (@theavamarialuxe)

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