Maya Basudde

Spoken word artist, author, and founder of the women’s spoken word showcase ‘Tell ‘Em Girl'

Maya Basudde is a 21-year-old spoken word artist, author, founder of the women’s spoken word showcase ‘Tell ‘Em Girl’, and keynote speaker participating in events such as TEDxUOttawaWomen, Families in Canada Conference, and the Global Community Alliance Gala. With these accomplishments at such a young age, where did her journey begin?

In 2017, Maya was nominated by her mother, Althea Basudde, for the Arts & Culture Award for using her art to make a difference. After receiving the award, Maya spent several months contemplating what she would do with bursary. She decided to use the funds to start her own poetry showcase, Tell ‘Em Girl, with the hope of giving women a platform to tell their stories. She launched Tell ‘Em Girl in the summer of 2017 with a sold-out event. Today, Maya continues to sell out events across the city that spread hope and empowerment.


Maya thanks the RBC Spirit Awards for encouraging her to share her story and poetry. “Being recognized for the award was one of the first times that I felt like what I was doing was important,” she told us. Maya hopes that Tell ‘Em Girl will continue to be a safe space where women can be bold and confident.

She believes that the Spirit Awards empower youth to move beyond their comfort zone. When asked what advice Maya would give to other youth, she said: “Nothing is ever impossible. If you have a dream, continue to pursue it because you are always capable of more than you think. If you had told me that I would be a recipient of this award and that I would be doing everything that I am doing now, I would have told you it was impossible. I’m glad I decided to challenge those odds.”