PEOPLE sat down with Georgia Steel, Eyal Booker, Samira Wiley and Dr. Alex George
Love Island is hopping across the pond — and we’re prepared for it to make quite a splash.
The British reality TV sensation, hosted by Caroline Flack, premiered in 2015 and was itself a reboot of Celebrity Love Island, which ran from 2005-06. Now a cultural phenomenon, it begins with a group of single “Islanders” who come together in a stunning villa in Mallorca where their every move is monitored, Big Brother-style.
Every few days, the Islanders must couple up (sharing beds!) and those who fail to find a partner risk being dumped from the island. Challenges abound with new Islander arrivals — and in addition to choosing their partners wisely, Islanders must also win the hearts of viewers, who have the opportunity to shape events on screen and ultimately crown one lucky couple the winner. The final couple will then have the chance to walk away with both love and the £50,000 cash prize. The show airs five nights a week, so you’re following the action more or less live.
CBS secured the rights to the show last summer and the first U.S. season of Love Island, set in Fiji and hosted by comedian Arielle Vandenberg, will debut next month. Ahead of the highly-anticipated premiere, PEOPLE sat down with four fan-favorite Islanders from Love Island U.K.’s season 4 — Georgia Steel, Eyal Booker, Samira Wiley and Dr. Alex George.
How are you feeling with the U.S. premiere around the corner?
EYAL: It’s pretty surreal to be here. The U.K. show was such a journey for us and the fact that America is going to get a taste of that in their own unique way, I think, is pretty crazy.
ALEX: The beauty of Love Island, the magic of it, is the relationships and attractions that occur between everyone in a very organic way — it’s almost the trials and tribulations of real life, with friendships and relationships. It’s exciting to come to the U.S. and see this concept out here, because it’s worldwide. Everyone has interrelationships and friendships and I think this show applies to people from all kinds of backgrounds.
How will the American version compare to the British one?
SAMIRA: I think it’s going to be so different. I can see the culture is a little bit different here. It’s going to be mad! I don’t think the U.S. has anything like this right now.
GEORGIA: I think the U.S. one will be more eccentric. I feel like being here, everyone’s got a lot bigger [personalities]. I think it’s going to be more dramatic and there will be a lot more twists and it will be more in-your-face.
SAMIRA: There’s going to be a lot of drama.
EYAL: Yeah. Americans love a little bit of drama.
SAMIRA: They do! Even in the taxi, I’m like … drama.
EYAL: Coming from England, I feel like we’re slightly more reserved. But then I’ve been chatting to people who think we were outrageous on the U.K. show and they told me Americans would never do that. I was like, ‘You’re crazy,’ because I think the Americans will be getting loose.
ALEX: You’re in an intense situation, so it brings out all kinds of drama and reactions.
SAMIRA: And obviously with the accent as well, it’s going to sound different.
What advice do you have for the American Islanders?
SAMIRA: Be yourself.
ALEX: And do it for the right reasons.
GEORGIA: I would say don’t be scared of what people think, just be you. I’ll be honest, for me, what I learned is sometimes to just say what you think because a lot of people might be thinking it, but not everyone can say it. They don’t dare say it. So just say what you want to say, don’t worry about what people will think.
SAMIRA: And be daring with your choices. Because you actually never know how long you’re in there. A lot of people come and go very quickly. The people who were in there for like, three days, they all said, ‘I wish I didn’t hold back as much.’
EYAL: You’re never going to be able to do right by everyone. It’s just impossible to go after what you want within that process and also be 100 percent mindful towards everyone else. Just remember that it’s not personal, and everyone is in there to get what they want to get.
Is being true to yourself the key to staying on the show?
EYAL: Yes. And I think it’s also important for after the show — if you go on the show as somebody else, then you’ve become a character and you’ve got to try and upkeep this personality.
ALEX: It sounds very cliché, but it’s so important just to be comfortable with who you are and in your surroundings and how you interact with people. You don’t always have to be the loudest — it’s not a competition of who’s the loudest. I was probably the quietest [on my season]. It’s about just being you and you will naturally find your way and your place and things will unfold.
GEORGIA: That’s so important. It isn’t about being the loudest. I definitely struggled with that at the beginning, but I think that’s a confidence thing as well. Also, I feel like when you relate to the audience, it’s better for you. If people can relate to you, then you build a connection with them.
What did you learn from the experience and how did it change how you approach dating?
EYAL: I learned what I really want and what I’m not looking for, and that’s not to go off of somebody’s looks. [On Love Island], that’s super hard. You go for somebody that you’re attracted to, but they actually might not be the person that you want to be with, or that you hoped that they were.
ALEX: For me, I developed a thick skin. I’ve learned just to be confident with who you are. Some people will like you, some people won’t, but just be confident.
SAMIRA: After the show, I struggled a little bit with meeting people. It was just weird. When you go through a relationship on Love Island, you’re in a bubble and you share so much with that person that you won’t ever share with someone else. Coming back to reality, dating normal people, was just a bit different. I was nervous, but you’ve just got to go for it.
If you could do it all over again, would you?
SAMIRA: Probably not, because I think it’s a one-time thing. Also, we know how to play the game now. I feel like I’d win if I did it again!
GEORGIA: Oh, I’d do it again. Because I need to find someone! I still haven’t found anyone, have I?
They should cast you for the American one!
GEORGIA: Oh, I would do it tomorrow.
Love Island will debut on CBS with a special 90-minute premiere at 8 p.m. ET on July 9. New one-hour episodes will continue every weeknight through Aug. 7. Seasons 1-5 of the British Love Island are streaming on Hulu.