My time on Love Island: the first day was the absolute worst

I was scrolling through my Instagram when I saw the new cast forLove Island 2019.

The first thing I noticed and was impressed by was the number of people of colour starting as originals. They’ve definitely made a conscious effort to rectify the colourism problems they faced last year.

Seeing the new line up made me reflect on my time on the show and the impact it has had on me.

I was initially asked to meet the producers to go on the show in 2016 to enter the house in the last two weeks. I had concerns about going in and becoming the Mr Steal Your Girl type, which I didn’t want to be.

I’m glad I didn’t take their offer because when it came to finding contestants for the 2017 series I was approached and asked if I wanted to meet the casting directors.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for me and I was at risk of being made redundant from my current job and I saw it as an opportunity to do something new. I didn’t really think I would be chosen but you got to have faith.

The casting process involved meeting producers and doing a video interview, which was sent to the execs. If they like you, you do another interview with them and then you have to do a psychological evaluation and medical examination.

I had met the doctor when I was in talks to appear on the previous year. I remember her saying, ‘You’re back, they must definitely want you on’, which gave me some added hope.

I started casting in February (which is very early compared to most people) and the call came in May. It felt like I was on a rollercoaster.

Your personal chaperone takes you to a secret location to get press shots done. The final meetings with production happen and within a couple of days you’re getting flown out and into hiding.  You’re just waiting for day dot – the first day of the rest of your life.

For me it was the worst day of my entire Love Island experience.

I was the first boy presented to the women and no one stepped forward. I was thinking to myself, ‘what the hell have I walked into?’

I’m a super confident guy but that hit me really hard. I’m fortunate to be quite a calm and chilled person so I took it on the chin and just said to myself, ‘If I’m only on the show for a week, just make sure to enjoy yourself, it’s a holiday.’

It was raining the next day and no one was filming, so it gave us time to bond off camera. That day I felt like everyone’s favourite person, which just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I became the go-to person in the villa for everyone and it was definitely a highlight of the whole experience for me. I loved that these strangers found comfort in my personality.

I haven’t watched all of my series back because I want to remember it how I remember it but overall I think I was shown in a good light. I know the whole Blazin Squad thing started off as a punchline but in the end it was Chris and Kem who provided the comedic relief in the villa.

In the end I felt like I was seen as the wise old man figure of Love Island, like Gandalf or Dumbledore. It’s something I got a lot of love for on leaving the villa – I even wrote a love self-help book.

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My life changed hugely after leaving Casa Amor. I didn’t get made redundant but had the freedom to quit. The joy of being able to do that was immense and my life post Love Island just got better and better.

I released new music, went to the Baftas, went on tour and I’ve done multiple brand campaigns.

I wouldn’t say it’s all sunshine and rainbows as you have to deal with a lot of pressure you didn’t have to before like press, trolls, followers and how many likes your sponsored posts get on Instagram. For me though it has been a step up from not knowing what I would do after losing my job.

I came off the show in a relationship and I tried to make it work, but I think the reality was that we were trying to maintain something that wasn’t 100 per cent. But we were making it work because of the whole Love Island circus that surrounded us.

Having the whole world watching your relationship and having fans so focused on everything makes it hard to say, ‘I don’t think this is working.’ You can stay in it for the wrong reasons, leading to mistakes being made.

Saying that, you can also be matched up with the right person. Just look at Jess and Dom – they’re married and about to have a baby. It’s amazing.

Love Island can definitely do what it says on the tin… sometimes.

If I have one word of advice for the new cast: just be yourself. If you’ve got a character, be that person and don’t shy away from who you are. You’ve been picked for a reason so entertain people.

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