Get ready for some proper grafting, cracking on, and mugging off, because on Tuesday night, the U.S. version of British reality-romance sensation Love Island washes up on CBS shores.
For the uninitiated, Love Island premiered in U.K. back in the summer of 2015 and is now in its fifth season (all available on Hulu). The premise is pretty simple: bask in the sun and find love. But you know savvy TV producers hell-bent on high ratings aren’t going to make it that simple! After an equal number of guys and girls (all completely stunning and more tanned and toned than your favorite workout instructor) enter the villa on day one and “couple up” with one another (pretty much they just choose who they fancy and crack on), gradually more beautiful men and women are introduced leaving at least one person single at a time. Add in savage challenges designed to test even the most solid couple, public voting and general dating insecurities and rivalries and there’s plenty of tears as Islanders are unceremoniously dumped from the island. Oh, did we mention the £50,000 prize money for the most enduring couple? If watching all of that unfold doesn’t sound like a dreamy way to spend every single evening for the rest of your summer, we can’t be friends.
Anyway, finally(!!) the U.S. version is here and since this is the first foray for Americans into Island life, we caught up with the Brit “Islanders” from season 4 while they were visiting New York City, and asked for advice for those ridiculously attractive guys and gals heading into their very own villa. Here’s what Eyal Booker, Alex George, Samira Mighty and Georgia Steel had to share when it comes to surviving Island life. Take note new Islanders!
Forget Filters and Game Plans
GEORGIA STEEL: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t filter myself when I first went in because I just say it as it is; I don’t really care if it hurts your feelings or not to be honest. So I went in and I thought, “I need to be really nice and when they ask for my opinion I’ll just go over the topic and just be really sweet.” But obviously, because they’d interviewed me, they knew how I was. I remember they’d be like, “Georgia, say your opinion. Stop filtering.” I definitely thought I needed to be more P.G., more nicer [sic] when I first went in, but you’re just you; you’re just raw.
SAMIRA MIGHTY: You’re always skeptical because you’re going on a reality show, but I don’t think you can filter yourself because you’re just normal, walking around your house. If you did, it would completely break down.
EYAL BOOKER: Yeah, we did the fourth season so you know it’s a big show and people are watching you. You can’t hide.
GEORGIA: I think I was still nice though? I am a nice person. I just say it how it is.
EYAL: In terms of a game plan though, no. I went in with the openness of potentially finding love and seeing how that panned out and just meeting people and enjoying the experience, but no preconceived conceptions. Until you’re in there, you don’t understand it. It’s such an intense environment, you can’t be anything but yourself.
ALEX GEORGE: And you’ll always be better off being yourself because you’ll be happier and also people will engage with you and connect with you on the show and watching.
Don’t be Camera Shy
GEORGIA: I definitely forgot they were even there. I remember I was doing my makeup in the mirror and someone was rapping or something and I just did a little pump and my friends said to me when I got out, Oh, Georgia you do know your pump went on telly? [Laughs] They get whatever they want.
SAMIRA: Yeah, the first day you’ll do something weird down the hallway and you’re like, Oh, God, they got that!
EYAL: Or, did I just fart? I’ve got a microphone on!
GEORGIA: Yeah, don’t get really drunk.
EYAL: We were limited on alcohol. You can only have like two glasses of wine or four beers.
GEORGIA: Hmm, yeah but I did start stealing everyone’s alcohol though at the end. Accept who you are.
Keep Your Options Open
SAMIRA: I definitely learnt to be more open with meeting people in general. I was used to just meeting actors and dancers all the time because that’s who I was around and I’d never met a doctor and had them be one of my closest mates. I learned to just be more interested and get to know other people’s lives.
ALEX: I agree. The thing that amazed me was that people can be from all sorts of demographics and background and walks of life, but you’ll find connections in ways you never thought. The friendships I made weren’t necessarily ones I expected.
Don’t Take Rejection to Heart
ALEX: Being rejected by people was difficult in a very animalistic way. You’ve not really had a chance to show who you are so it was difficult and it was a challenge, but do be honest, it really gave me that journey that followed and it made me really, truly be myself. When I walked in, it was the worst nightmare; nobody actually fancies you. It didn’t work out in that way, but I found strength in people around me and I developed friendships. I got through it and I think I’m much tougher because of it. It was quite emotional. In some ways I’m quite thankful of it because I think I’ve learned so much from that experience and found some strength that in the long-run it’s a good thing. I really learned that you’re always a lot stronger than you think and you need to be a lot more confident and love yourself before you try to love anyone else.
EYAL: I definitely grew a thicker skin and I also learnt what I do and don’t want in a relationship and that I needed to change the way that I looked for somebody. It’s not about just what they look like which was a hard lesson to learn, but I learnt it.
Don’t Dive In
Mighty: I really recommend not jumping into anything if you don’t know because otherwise you might get hurt a bit too much and you might get knocked down. I was true to myself as you saw because I could’ve gone with a lot of different boys. I could’ve just been like, oh, yeah I really fancy whoever was left out or left over. I could’ve faked it completely with you, Alex, and led you on, but I can’t do that to someone or to myself. I think, definitely, if the person is not in there for you, wait. Don’t force it. I was in there for a long time and I didn’t have anyone — in a romantic way.
George: We should’ve stayed together the whole time.
Mighty: I know we would’ve won, babe.
Stick By Your Decisions
SAMIRA: People always say ask about my decision to leave, but I stick by it. I’d been in for six weeks, I knew I wasn’t going to win because my person had gone anyway and I just got to a point where it was enough. I had my experience and I thought this is great and felt like if I hadn’t tried I wouldn’t have known. I was like an open book, I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was nice, it was so fun, everyone was friendly. I was sad as well, but I was like, “I’ve just walked away from an amazing experience and now I’m going to get, hopefully, what I want.” And I did, for a bit.
Learn the Language of Love
SAMIRA: Think with your head, but not that head. On dates, talk about the weather.
EYAL: Dates are so awkward. I hate small talk. I think it’s different for everyone. Get to know the person that you’re potentially going to be getting into bed with, literally. Don’t think with your d—.
GEORGIA: I love dates, me. I don’t get nervous; I’ll sit there and talk to you. Just chat.
ALEX: Ask lots of questions.
GEORGIA: Fake eyelashes! I’m not even lying to you. I swear to God. In that dressing room, they were like gold. Everyone would be looking for them every single night. I had about 20 pairs and honestly I would pack about 100. They were like stardust.
SAMIRA: Contact lenses!
EYAL: Take more clean underwear. Just take a lot of underwear. Your washing…they don’t do it as regularly as you’d think. I don’t think people really understand we’re living in there. It’s not like we have a cleaner every day. It’s not like we have a washing machine and we would get dressed a lot. Bring what you need.
ALEX: They do have most of the stuff there to be fair. They have SPF.
GEORGIA: Especially being a girl, when you’re in there for 2 months, you’re going to run out of stuff and you can’t just pop to the shop.
EYAL: A little bit of aloe vera for that good old sunburn. You’re in the sun all the time. If you don’t like the sun, don’t go on the show.
SAMIRA: Bring loads of bikinis, obviously.
Sleep Easy (with a Stranger)
GEORGIA: I love a cuddle, so I didn’t mind sharing with a stranger.
SAMIRA: You get used to having that many people in one room. Sometimes when you’re in your bed it feels like you’re in your own bubble. [Alex and I] had what we called a D.M.C. — a deep meaningful conversation — every night. You kind of reevaluate the day. We got so close.
ALEX: Yeah, it’s like counseling. We had our own therapy sessions.
SAMIRA: No joke! It’d be time to go to bed, and obviously we weren’t bonking or anything, so we’d talk and then turn over.
EYAL: But take some earplugs! I was right by the door the whole time and people kept going to the toilet and the light would shine in on my face. Also, Adam [Collard] was in the bed next to me or two away, and he snores like you’ve never heard in your life.
SAMIRA: Yeah and wear shades when you wake up because the light is so bright. Keep shades beside your water.
EYAL: Yes, it’s like being reborn! It’s like coming out of the womb every morning. You know that scene from Malcolm in the Middle where they’re all reborn? It’s like that. We’re not being divas, it’s just very bright. Weird dreams for sure too.
Keep Your Head Up
SAMIRA: It’s easy to feel lonely in there because people have bonds. People would come in later and they struggled to connect because you’ve got your bonds from the start. There’s so many people.
EYAL: When relationships don’t go the way you expect them to go, it feels like knock after knock and you question whether it’s you or whether it’s them or a combination of everything. It can be hard.
GEORGIA: When boys came in later and watched the show, I thought, Raar, you know what’s on telly, you’re going to go with the girl that’s doing the best and, that, I didn’t like. I thought, “Is this because you actually want to be with me or is that because you’ve seen me on telly and you think oh, she got a good edit last night, I’ll have her.” I struggled with that. I wish I’d found my one at the beginning because then you start thinking, are their intentions real?
Be True to You
George: Remember the public don’t know you. Because you’re in such a closed environment, you don’t know how people are perceiving what you’re doing, agreeing or not. Most of the time it’s both; some people will agree with you and some won’t. If you go in there and try and do it in that you think the public will like, you’ll just come across badly. The best thing you can do is be true to what you believe is right and stick to it.
Place Your Mic With Care
SAMIRA: Oh, I loved wearing the mic pack. Sometimes with an outfit if you didn’t have belt? It cinched you in. I was snatched.
EYAL: No, they’re so annoying. You have to wear it though; if you don’t wear your mic you’re told over a tannoy to put your mic on.
SAMIRA: Yeah, you get told off because they miss things. Imagine the crucial thing you say to someone, oh I love you and they’ve missed that! oh no!
Use Your Platform to Elevate Others
GEORGIA: I would say do what you want to do when you get out. Don’t let people manipulate you and say there are certain things to do things that you might not want to do. When I first came out, I had so many opportunities and I didn’t want to turn anything down. Now I’m more exclusive and I pick what I want to do. At the end of the day, it is my career. Do what you want to do and don’t do things for the sake of doing them.
SAMIRA: Don’t follow the crowd. Be individual because that’s where people are more interested and follow you more. If everyone’s the same on Instagram or social media, you get a bit uninterested.
ALEX: Yeah, it’s choosing and thinking about who you are, what you believe in, what matters to you and what will make you happy. If you don’t just think about financial gain, you’ll end up being actually much happier. You’re better off following a path that you enjoy that you’re truly passionate about and then other things will come with that. That’s the most important thing, otherwise you’re really going to lose your way.
EYAL: I think remember who you were before and do that, but on a bigger scale.
ALEX: And also don’t be afraid to go back. I’ve gone back to A&E [accident and emergency] part time. There’s some people that go on these kind of shows that worry that now they shouldn’t have a normal life because they’ve been on reality TV. That’s not true. I think it’s very important that all shows represent that as well; there’s no shame in going back to your normal job and things like that. I loved going back.
SAMIRA: Also take the new opportunities as well.
ALEX: Yeah, take the new opportunities and enjoy it. There’s loads of things that’ll come from it. Like coming to New York.
SAMIRA: New York, baby!
…And, Watch Out for Intruders
EYAL: We had peacocks in the villa!! They’d walk in through the front door and sh-t everywhere. Security had to come in and take them out; they’re big! They’re serious animals.
SAMIRA: They were just chilling! They were just living their best lives.
Love Island premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBS.