Maura Higgins Is Maxim’s March/April Cover Star

The stunning social host of “Love Island USA” shines in these exclusive photos.

Coat: PATRYCJA PAGAS, Shoes: PARIS TEXAS, Earrings: LAG WORLD, Rings: ALIGHIERI & KINKS LAB (Gilles Bensimon)

It’s Maura Higgins’ moment. And rightly so: She manifested it. You might have seen the scene-stealing Irish beauty gracing your screens recently as the newly-minted, very social host of Peacock’s Love Island USA and Love Island Games, but behind every seemingly overnight success story is a long tale of sheer hard work—“graft” in Irish parlance.

(Photography: Gilles Bensimon, Styling: Lauren Anne Groves @lgrovesss, Styling Assistant: Eliza Goldsmith @eliza_goldsmith & Meghan Lynch @meghanlynch13, Hair: Carl Bembridge, Makeup: Suzy Clarke, Manicure: Emma Welsh, Producer: Rachael Evans www.blockproductions.co.uk @block.productions)

“I don’t think people ever see the graft,” agrees Higgins, 33, who reveals that she got the call about the career-making hosting gig from the network just two weeks after she created a vision board with her best friend in early 2023. “So now I’m a big believer in all this manifestation stuff,” she laughs in her distinctive Irish accent—that same voice that won her fans during her captivating stint on the original UK version of the dating show back in 2019.

Dress: HAKAMAKI, Earrings: 4ELEMENT, Rings: LORETTE COLE DUPRAT, Tights: WOLFORD (Gilles Bensimon)

“The best thing I ever did was go on to Love Island,” she says. “It really changed my life. I genuinely thought when I was going on to the show, because Ireland couldn’t vote, that I’d only last a week.” Spoiler alert: not only did Higgins make it all the way to the finals and amass millions of male and female supporters, her no-nonsense approach, razor-sharp wit, and comedic timing made an impact all over the world and on the industry too. Some of her most infamous quips (think: “fanny flutters”) became TV gold, and her profile rose amongst viewers, and, more importantly, producers, stateside.

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Bra: WHAT KATIE DID, Trousers: ONITSUKA TIGER, Earrings: 4ELEMENT, Ring: LORETTE COLE DUPRAT & IZABO, Shoes: PARIS TEXAS (Gilles Bensimon)

To date, the season on which she starred remains the most popular in the franchise’s history, and like a select few of its other memorable contestants, seemingly overnight Higgins became the kind of social-media sensation and pop-culture phenomenon that thousands of hopefuls have since tried to replicate.

“I kind of just did it for fun,” Higgins says when reflecting about her decision to go on the hugely-watched reality show—which, at the time, was amassing over five million viewers an episode. “I don’t think I even thought about it. I just did things in a spur-of-the-moment way. I think I just get bored easily, so I like to try something different and throw myself into it. I never expected anything, and maybe that was the best thing to do. There was no career strategy or intention.”

Jacket & Trousers: ANNAKIKI, Shoes: GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI, Earrings: SCHILLER, Necklace: LORETTE COLE DUPRAT (Gilles Bensimon)

But while she’s now known for her larger-than-life personality, where did it all begin? Higgins hails from a small town in the midlands of Ireland, where the population was about 1,500 people when she was growing up. After leaving school at 15 to pursue hairdressing, she spent a decade learning the trade until an opportunity came up to work for the beverage behemoth Monster Energy, which saw her travel the world as a brand ambassador.

“I moved out of my family home at 17. I’ve always been independent, but it was very young,” she recalls. “With Monster, I was meeting incredible people and making amazing friends, but I wasn’t making a lot of money. I was struggling to afford my car. Looking back, I couldn’t even afford heating. In the winter time in Ireland, I’d sit there with three dressing gowns [bathrobes] and three pairs of socks on, and I could see my own breath in front of me. It’s crazy how far I’ve come from that moment.”

Top: RUI ZHOU, Skirt: PATRYCJA PAGAS, Earrings: SCHILLER, Necklace: LORETTE COLE DUPRAT (Gilles Bensimon)

In 2018, Monster Energy posted a video of Higgins drifting a car in Abu Dhabi, in a bid to encourage women to drive, which quickly went viral. It also caught the attention of Love Island producers, who spent two years asking her to sign up for the show—but it took a while for her to be convinced.

“When I watched the show, I always thought, ‘I could never do that.’ Would you believe, I was very quiet when I was younger. My mammy would say that out of her four children, I’d never open my mouth and never cause trouble, and that I was an angel child. I’m making up for it now! Now I’m probably the loudest character. I do think working with Monster Energy brought me out of my shell because it got me so out of my comfort zone.”

Coat: MYNOK, Flower: VAILLANT (Gilles Bensimon)

Once she attempted to return to normal after appearing on Love Island, she quickly realized that life was irrevocably different. Beyond getting her head around paparazzi chasing her down the street and everyone knowing her name, suddenly the world was her oyster in terms of deciding her next move. Not only did brand deals, collaborations, photo shoots, and interview requests keep flooding in, but also traditional media opportunities, like hosting segments on [flagship British TV show] This Morning and a spell as a contestant on Dancing On Ice.

Now that she’s on the cusp of her big American break, she’s eying up more hosting roles and work in the fashion and beauty space. And while the competition might be steeper in the U.S. market, she’s got one thing to her advantage: that beloved lilt of hers. “Weirdly, I was waiting for a lot of the reaction to be like, ‘We can’t understand her!’ But there was none of that. The Americans love the Irish! They love the accent! So it’s been a good thing.”

Full Look: MARK GONG, Earrings: SCHILLER, Rings: SCHILLER, LORETTE COLEDUPRAT & ALIGHIERI (Gilles Bensimon)

“I’ve always loved America,” she continues. ”That’s why I feel so grateful—I never thought I’d be working here. I don’t have a five-year plan, and I don’t like to put pressure on things. When opportunities come, grab them, and see what happens,” she says of her outlook on 2024 and beyond.

While she might not have a personal agenda or a calculated plan, her trajectory is undoubtedly inspiring others to go after their wildest dreams, no matter where they come from. “Just go for it and don’t let anyone tell you no,” she says confidently. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

With a smile, she admits that she’s keeping 2024’s vision-board themes to herself for now, but there are some mantras on there that’ll remain her North Star forevermore. “Be more patient. Keep working hard. And stay humble, no matter what—that has always been drilled into me.” Manifesting and channeling some of Higgins’ positive energy? Seems like that’s a perfect recipe for success.

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