Over the 12 days of Christmas, HuffPost UK is hosting a series of blogs from people at the centre of 2018′s biggest news stories. Today, Love Island contestant Samira Mighty sheds light on what it’s like to be at the centre of the year’s biggest TV phenomenon and what she did next. To find out more about the series, follow our hashtag #HuffPost12Days
When the Love Island producers approached me this year and asked me to be on the show, it obviously wasn’t a chance I could turn down. I’d actually originally applied for the show in the 2017 cycle, and was told I’d be a one of the late entrants that year – but it didn’t work out. I’d always thought you can get such a big platform from the show, and I was single after all. It didn’t take much deliberation – it’s summer, everyone’s fit, a funded holiday in a mansion, and it’s a space where you might meet someone, maybe even find love, so why not?
I was surprised to hear how many people applied – more than the number that applied to Oxford and Cambridge. But I think if you want to go to Oxford and Cambridge, go to Oxford and Cambridge, if you want to apply for Love Island, apply for Love Island! I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Oxford, but why not go away for eight weeks, with no phones, no nothing, meet people, kiss a few cute boys?
You’ll never really understand how amazingly life-changing the experience is unless you’ve been on the show – I don’t really have any regrets about my time there. It is a pretty intense situation, you’re a bit like a Sim at times.
Going in the first day is daunting, and throughout the process you obviously don’t know what’s going on on the outside, who’s voting, who’s going to go, when Caroline Flack’s going to walk in. At times you can also worry about how you’re perceived by the public. You’re just a normal person, and you say what you think. A lot of it is also down to editing as well, what they decide to show – sometimes you have a conversation and think “oh god, I wish I didn’t say that.” It might not end up being in the edit anyway, but you’re still there worrying for the whole day, thinking: “what if it comes across like this, or like that?”
It was strange getting so famous so fast. I knew the show was huge, but I didn’t know it was going to be this huge. I don’t know what it was that made it was so big this year, it might have been to do with the fact that everyone was so different – also this year, like Jack and Danni, lots of the personalities were made for each other. I think people get invested in that – following people who are made for each other. There were also a lot a friendships this year, and it was nice to see all of these different connections grow. Overall, it has been really incredible having been a part of such a big cultural moment – it’s just mad, isn’t it? I’ll never forget it.
Some parts of our relationships don’t come across on TV. When you see the show, you see us talking about how we feel all the time, but in reality half the time as well we’re just chatting shit, chatting about normal, everyday stuff. But other than that, what you see on the show is really how it was every night.
I really enjoyed dressing up every night, but it was so hot, so I didn’t really wear that much makeup, because you’re just sweating so much. But I loved basically dressing up and having a good time with my mates every night. With a bit of a side of drama, obviously.
Some people felt like my race meant I was treated differently – but to be honest it’s over now, and if ITV had a problem they wouldn’t have put me on the show. When they cut me and Frankie in the hideaway, I think that isn’t necessarily as interesting as George kicking off at Josh. It’s a TV show, and there’s only 24 hours in a day, which they have to get down to one.
I decided to leave the villa early, but I still think that how I left was right, it was perfect for me and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I was in there for six weeks, and for me, two more weeks wasn’t going to do anything. I’d got what I went in for, so I left.
After leaving, everyone suddenly knowing your name can be a bit of a shock. As soon as I got out, I remember going to the airport (I hadn’t even seen that many people in one space for a while, it was a bit scary). Then everyone was like ‘Samira!’ and I was like ‘what?’ You’re just thrown into fame, it’s not like you’re eased into it. It’s definitely a huge change, but I’m mature, and my head is definitely screwed on. It didn’t get to me – I was quite professional with it all and took it in my stride.
Overall, the show has opened so many doors for me, especially in terms of career, my life has changed dramatically. Nowadays I’m presenting a new quiz show on Facebook Watch, called Confetti. It’s general knowledge, and it’s actually quite hard, sometimes I’m looking at the questions like “I can’t do this!” I’m sure I’d be straight out.
Hopefully next year I’ll just continue to come across more amazing opportunities. I want to work on my singing, that’s my main focus, as well as presenting. I really just want to grab every opportunity that comes my way. I’m ready for anything.
As told to Micha Frazer-Carroll
Samira presents quiz show ‘Confetti’ on Facebook Watch, weekdays, 1.30pm.