The first time I applied for Love Island was in 2018 after the series had become a firm part of my summer's evening routine.
But – knowing the huge volume of applicants, giving up halfway through the lengthy online questionnaire process, and not being 100% single – it was a half-hearted application at best.
I'm not a desperate 'reality TV star hopeful' as such, but I've always been told by friends I should pursue TV, and besides – a free eight-week holiday, the chance of winning £50k, and getting a clothing sponsorship deal instead of a 'proper job' sounded ideal.
Also, there was the small matter of the chance to meet my soulmate. But I was mainly aiming to procrastinate in the sun for a bit, I won't lie. Needless to say, my rubbish application didn't get picked up by the casting team.
In March 2019, when the casting process for this summer's villa began, applying briefly crossed my mind once again – and I was actually single this time.
I have a sizeable online following who began tagging the Love Island Instagram account in my photos, trying to get me noticed by the team.
One day at my office job, a notification popped up in my Instagram DMs of a casting producer who was friendly with the ITV team – she passed me an email and told me if I was serious about applying, I should email over some information.
With nothing but an afternoon of admin in front of me, I quickly popped across some bikini photos and a funny paragraph about my tragic dating life. I assumed that would be the end of it; that ITV casting agents would be inundated with beautiful girls to choose from, and reckoned most of them were hand-picked anyway.
An hour later my mobile rang: the producer loved my application and wanted to chat further. We spoke about my previous boyfriends, what I'd be looking for in the villa, and my availability. She told me to apply like anyone else via the site, but once I had, I would be offered an in-person interview date.
That night I rushed home and, instead of immediately getting into my pyjamas, put on a full face of makeup and squeezed into a bodycon dress and heels. Propping my phone up on my nightstand, I filmed a rough 30-second video telling the producers I was looking for love after a string of sneaking-out-early level of bad dates, and that my ideal man was Wes from the prior series; hilarious, smart, banging body.
I answered the online questions too, which asked things such as my 'ideal type' and what I would bring to the Island. The day after I applied, I received an email offering me my choice of group interview dates – it would be a morning session, as the boy's session was in the afternoon (I was definitely tempted to stick around after to check that situation out).
Luckily, being from Essex, they offered me London based options, so it wasn't too far to travel – if you apply normally, you must be open to travelling far and wide if you're chosen to interview.
On the morning of the interview I headed to the ITV building where I was greeted by a large, nearly empty reception hall – except for the gaggle of stilettoed, eyelashed and fake-tanned girls in the corner. I barely even needed to check with reception that that was the group I was meant to be joining.
When I'd asked for the interview dress code was, I was told it was "casual – like you're on a date", but I knew this probably didn't mean the jeans and trainers I would actually wear on a date. I'm glad I trusted my instinct (and packed heels); every single girl looked night-out ready.
I wore a leopard-print dress that showed slightly too much cleavage, a Gucci belt (four other girls had the same one!), strappy black heels and false lashes that nearly touched my eyebrows – not quite my standard uniform of jeans and a jumper.
I was one of the last to arrive, and it was slightly intimidating walking over to a group of gorgeous girls. We sat awaiting further instruction, all nervously chatted about our jobs, ages, and where we had travelled from – some girls had suitcases with them, and had even come as far as Devon that same morning.
Everyone got on really well; we admitted we thought the other girls might be bitchy, but that wasn't the case at all (in true solidarity, one girl even shared her hairbrush and lipgloss with me). The only awkward moment that arose was when we spoke about how we had ended up at the interview – a lot of the girls had contacts or had been scouted, but seemed hesitant to admit it in front of the ones who had applied, as if it might hurt their feelings. We all seemed to not want to talk about the application process too much in front of the producers that were in the waiting room with us, in case it cast us in a bad light – while friendly, everyone was still on their best behaviour.
After being moved to another room, we all got to work on the paperwork. We'd been told to bring passports, driving licences and utility bills, and had hand over the details of every address we had lived, as well as other personal details, for the background check.
As each girl completed her paperwork, we were then called in one by one to a separate room for an on-camera interview with two producers. I was the fourth girl called so only waited about 20 minutes rather than the three hours I was told to expect, and once the previous girl had finished her interview, she had to leave immediately. There was absolutely no chance to say goodbye or to prep us with what the questions might be.
The casting staff were super-friendly, and the interview itself only lasted a few minutes; I just had to talk to camera about my worst date, what I was looking for, and what made me different as an Islander.
I hadn't planned any answers, so immediately launched into a bout of word vomit, telling the female producer about an awful drinks date where it become apparent that our political views were so different I had had to get up and leave. When the questions were over, the producer remarked that I was very chatty – a plus, in her eyes, as "usually she's the one chatting away during these interviews". I was then told that if I was successful, the next round of interview chose the Islanders, and I'd be called within a month.
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