Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (born 18 July 1975), better known by her stage name M.I.A., is an English recording artist of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. She is also a songwriter, painter, and director. "M.I.A." is a play on her own name and a reference to the acronym of Missing in Action. Her compositions combine elements of electronic, dance, alternative, hip hop, and world music. Arulpragasam began her career in 2000 as a visual artist, filmmaker, and designer in west London before beginning her recording career in 2002.