Maya Avant was an aspiring actress/singer from the Midwest who, years ago, came to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business. Maya had a daughter she gave up for adoption when she was convicted for a crime she didn't commit. Dayzee Leigh, who worked with the less fortunate on Skid Row (and lived there herself), worked to help place Maya's baby with a good family.
In 2013, Maya was released from prison and tracked down Dayzee, demanding her baby back. Dayzee, who had become part of the prestigious Forrester fashion dynasty by marrying Marcus Walton Forrester, tried to stall Maya, who became increasingly insistent. Dayzee did some digging and was forced to tell Maya that her daughter, along with her daughter's adoptive family, died in a car wreck. Maya was stunned, but seemed to find peace when she visited her daughter's extended family, realizing that Dayzee had done right by her baby.
Offered the chance to sing open mic at Dayzee's coffee house, Maya attracted the attention of Marcus' cousin, Rick Forrester, who was volunteering at Dayzee's. Maya mistook Rick for one of the waiters, even giving Rick a hefty tip thinking he was less fortunate. Maya enjoyed getting to know Rick, who helped her move into the apartment above Dayzee's and slept on her couch when he locked his keys in his car. Maya witnessed an argument between Rick and his socialite girlfriend, Caroline Spencer, and could see Rick was unhappy.
Rick took Maya window shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where they shared their first kiss. Maya thrilled as she tried on fancy dresses at a Forrester Creations boutique. But when a sales clerk outed Rick as a Forrester, Maya felt played, and she stormed out. Later, Maya accepted a date with Marcus' adoptive brother, Carter Walton, who took her to a dinner party at the Forrester mansion. Maya was uncomfortable when Rick entered with jealous Caroline, who made sure Maya saw Rick kissing her. Carter asked Maya out again, but Maya, who had come to forgive Rick for his deception, gently turned Carter down.
Maya faced opposition in her attraction to Rick through Dayzee, who warned Maya to stay away, and Caroline, who snarkily made sure to get Maya's name wrong in conversation. Still, Maya and Rick seemed to grow closer. Maya thought she was getting a shot at the big time when she received a call offering her a movie role, but when Maya got to the studio, she soon realized she was being asked to do porn, unaware that Caroline had set the whole thing up to make Maya look bad in Rick's eyes. Rick joked with Maya about her brush with "success", then offered Maya a legitimate position as a spokesmodel for Forrester's Hope for the Future line. Caroline was furious and taunted the inexperienced Maya, but Rick hired a professional model to be Maya's guide. Later, Caroline made points with Rick by arranging a fundraiser fashion show for her cancer foundation, in which Rick, Carter, and Marcus, along with Thomas Forrester and Oliver Jones, modeled sleepwear on the runway.
Maya could tell that Rick was still interested in her, but he wasn't breaking things off with Caroline, either. Maya finally told Rick that he needed to choose; Rick chose Maya, but reported that Caroline was ignoring his attempts to break up with her. One day, Maya walked into the office at Forrester to find Caroline's uncle, publishing magnate Bill Spencer. Bill had dug into Maya's past and found out that Maya was not to come within 500 feet of Jesse Graves, the father of her deceased baby, or Maya could be sent back to jail. Bill promised to arrange it if Maya didn't stay away from Rick. Maya stood up to Bill and unashamedly admitted her past with Jesse, a bad boy who carried guns and committed a crime that Maya was also sent to jail for.
Despite Bill's threats, Maya went to a club with Rick and was frustrated when Caroline tagged along. Maya ran into Jesse, who had cleaned up his act after his release from jail and wanted to reunite with Maya and their daughter. Maya had the difficult task of having to tell Jesse their daughter had died. She wished him well and hit the dance floor with Rick, unaware that Bill's assistant, Alison, had snapped a photo of Maya and Jesse in conversation. Maya was horrified when Alison showed up on her doorstep with the photo, which Alison promised would be delivered to the district attorney if Maya went near Rick again. Starting to feel the noose tightening, Maya admitted to Carter that Bill was blackmailing her, but unwillingly told Rick that she didn't see a future with him.
Maya shrugged off Caroline's threat to fire her from Forrester, then put on a brave face when Caroline tried to embarrass her by making her wear prison-themed designs in a photo shoot set in a mock jail cell. Maya finally told Rick how Bill was blackmailing her and why, sure that Caroline was involved, but Caroline was actually innocent. Rick firmly told Caroline it was over and began a relationship with Maya.
Maya received a call from Rafael, a producer who had received Maya's headshot and wanted Maya to audition for Room 8, a new web series. Maya was surprised to discover that she'd be reading with Carter, the show's leading man, but was thrilled when she was cast opposite him. Maya and Carter began portraying “Scarlett” and “Lance”, roommates who were leisurely heading toward a sweet romance, so Maya was baffled when the scripts started including fantasy sequences complete with corny dialogue. It was tame enough, but when Rafael showed a sneak peek at Rick's Fourth of July party, the footage had been edited to appear much more erotic. Rick realized Maya was only acting, but still wasn't thrilled to see her making out with Carter.
Maya bit her tongue when her scenes with Carter got even sexier, but the racy material had Carter hot and bothered enough that he suggested Rick would never have to know if they slept together for real. Maya admitted Carter was attractive, but stayed true to Rick. Finally, a scene that was supposed to show “Scarlett” and “Lance” bonding over guinea pigs changed to a full-on lovemaking scene on a waterbed. Maya froze up, causing Rafael to walk off the set and argue with someone. Maya recognized the voice and found that Caroline had been pulling Rafael's strings, manipulating the whole show to make Rick jealous enough to dump Maya. Rick arrived to inquire about using Forrester fashions on Room 8 just as an escaped guinea pig scared Caroline, who jumped on the waterbed and got soaked when her heels punctured the mattress. Rick admitted that Caroline's antics were a test that he and Maya passed, and they reaffirmed their love. Rafael made things up to Maya and Carter by having them shoot the series as it was originally written.
Maya was upset when Rick missed the premiere screening of Room 8 because he and Caroline had to handle a crisis at Forrester. Carter suggested they celebrate with a bottle of wine at Maya's place. Maya had too much and fell into a passionate kiss with Carter; Maya stopped things there, and Carter slept on the couch. Maya had to model for the rebranded HFTF fashion show, though she was preoccupied with telling Rick the truth. After the show, Maya went to Rick, who had already heard about Carter spending the night from Caroline. Maya insisted she and Carter had only kissed, but Rick needed time to think. The next morning, Maya found a half-naked Caroline at Rick's place. Maya felt Caroline would always be an issue in her and Rick's relationship, so Maya broke up with Rick and resigned from Forrester, telling Rick that he and Caroline made the better pair.
Maya got a shoulder to cry on in the form of Carter, who had her read his idea for a Room 8 script with him; she didn't realize it was actually his unique way of proposing to her. Maya, who still thought of Rick, was stunned, but accepted Carter's ring, which Rick saw when he came by to see her. Maya held her ground that she and Carter made more sense, then made love to Carter in celebration of the engagement.
As Carter happily made wedding plans, Maya longed for Rick, who had reunited with Caroline. Dayzee encouraged Maya to come clean, but, by the time she did, Rick and Caroline had already gotten engaged, and Maya kept her feelings to herself. Telling Carter that she missed representing HFTF at Forrester, Maya was thrilled when Carter convinced Rick to install her as spokeswoman again. At Hope's Thanksgiving dinner, Maya seemed to have settled in with Carter, not minding Rick and Caroline sitting across from them.