Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Jaya Mahajan

By Mara Keen

Welcome to NYWIFT, Jaya Mahajan! Originally from Mumbai, India, Jaya is a filmmaker with Executive Producer credits for documentaries and factual shows that have been on networks such as CNN, BBC, Discovery and the National Geographic Channel.

She spent the initial part of her career as a business reporter and producer with CNBC and Bloomberg. More recently, she has been running an award-winning production company, creating films and documentaries and teaching journalism students in Malaysia and Singapore.

Jaya recently moved to New York and is looking forward to focusing on projects that highlight and amplify traditionally underrepresented, diverse, and marginalized voices. 


NYWIFT Member Jaya Mahajan


Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!

I am a filmmaker with Executive Producer credits for documentaries and factual shows that have been on networks such as CNN, BBC, Discovery and the National Geographic Channel. For the last decade I have been running an award-winning production company, creating films and documentaries and teaching journalism students in Malaysia and Singapore. I recently moved to New York and I am looking forward to collaborating with fellow creatives as I embark on the next phase of my career.


What brings you to NYWIFT?

I would like to meet other fellow New York-based producers, scriptwriters, and directors to know more about their journeys and filmmaking experiences.


Jaya moderating a panel discussion for Asia Broadcasting Union (ABU) in Romania with public broadcasters across Asia


As of today, what are some of your career highlights?

One of the most ambitious projects I worked on was a 13-part documentary series that looked at different events through the history of SouthEast Asia. The series proved to me the importance of collaborations in the world of filmmaking. One can choose to make a documentary and it can be watched by a limited number of people. But for scale, a wider audience and better budgets, one needs the winning formula – a perfect combination of creativity and business acumen.

The 13 films I produced managed to sweep all the regional awards while competing with international broadcasters. We also created fiction miniseries out of each of the documentary episodes, giving them a broader appeal among non-documentary watchers. The films went on to be aired on History Channel and worked across a pan-Asia audience.


Jaya on set supervising the production of a drama series during the pandemic


I see that you have traveled all around the world to produce factual projects. What inspired you to do this?

Ever since I started my career in documentary filmmaking and journalism, I have had the opportunity to tell stories that have taken me to different countries. In the initial years it was travel and food shows – a genre that took me around the world – but over the years I have lived in different countries and embraced new cultures.

Mira Nair recently told me, “I have strong roots and hence I can fly.” I love that quote and I relate to it and would like to embrace it on my journey.  


Jaya with cast and crew of award winning food show Kitchen Wars at the end of production


How does your combined experience in journalism and in strategy and business development influence your work as a producer?

No creative project can be a standalone one-person project. My foundation lies in journalism, and I have always had a passion for real life stories. Strategy, business development, and a financial acumen are skill sets I have picked up through my years in producing different kinds of projects and they are the key differentiators that can make a creative project into a profitable venture. 


What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

I am developing a project that looks at stories of immigrants. It is in the early stages of development.


Connect with Jaya Mahajan on Instagram at @JayaMahajan7 and on LinkedIn.


Mara Keen

Mara Keen Mara Keen is a composer, music editor, pianist, orchestrator, producer, and piano teacher. You can hear her music featured in Netflix’s Princess Power. In 2019, she earned a B.M. from George Mason University in Classical Composition. In 2022, she earned a M.M. from SUNY Purchase in Studio Composition where she was selected as a SUNY Thayer Fellowship Winner. She is an active member of The Society of Composers and Lyricists, The Alliance for Women Film Composers, and Maestra. In 2023, she was selected to participate in the MUSE/Maestra Music Assistant Experience. That same year, she was asked to be a guest lecturer at SUNY Purchase, interned with the Institute for Composer Diversity, and interned with New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT).

View all posts by Mara Keen

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