Love Island's Justine and Caleb on Their 'Surreal' Experience as the First Black Couple to Win
"It is awesome to see that America got behind our love, and it came during a very important time," he says
This season of Love Island has come to an end, but it's just the beginning of Jaleb.
Five weeks after the first batch of season 2 Islanders were inserted into the "bubble" at a newly-constructed villa on top of the Cromwell hotel in Las Vegas, where they remained sequestered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans crowned their favorite couple during Wednesday night's finale: Justine Ndiba and Caleb Corprew, who took home a check for $100,000.
In second place was Cely Vazquez and Johnny Middlebrooks; third, Calvin Cobb and Moira Tumas; and fourth, Carrington Rodriguez and Laurel Goldman.
After getting together early on in the season, Justine, 27, and Caleb, 24, blossomed into undeniable fan favorites. They weathered the temptations of the Casa Amor twist, exchanged "I love yous," enjoyed a night in the hideaway, and basically won us all over by just being themselves. And they're the first Black couple to win from the franchise, which also airs in the U.K. and Australia.
Keep reading for PEOPLE's conversation with the pair as they soak up the moment.
How are you feeling? Is it still sinking in?
JUSTINE: It’s definitely all still sinking in. We spoke to family and stuff yesterday and just hearing the overwhelming amount of love that we’re getting right now is unbelievable.
What’s next for the two of you? When do you get to head home?
CALEB: We’re going to stay behind here in Vegas for a few days, spend some time with each other away from cameras and microphones. Then I imagine that I’ll be up in New Jersey meeting the fam, probably sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Justine, you’re in New Jersey, and Caleb, you’re in Los Angeles. What do you envision for your future, short-term and long-term?
JUSTINE: Short-term I would definitely say we’ll be booking flights back and forth for a little while. We have our phones back, we’ll have the communication there, and then long-term I would probably say the plan for me right now is maybe come out here [to the West Coast] and be a little bit closer to Caleb. But maybe I can do some convincing and have him come to me!
What are you most excited about doing on the outside?
CALEB: I can’t wait to hang out with Justine and our friends and just see how she moves and has fun with all those people. I’m excited for some of the things that we don’t get to do in the villa, like go out for a brunch date with each other and spend some time one-on-one. It’s going to be really nice to just have control over our schedule.
JUSTINE: And Caleb has hyped how good of a cook he is, so I’m excited to see if that’s all true!
How does it feel to be the first Black couple to win this show, at this particular moment in time?
CALEB: It is really surreal, I think is the best word. It hasn’t quite settled in, we still feel like we’re dreaming at this point. It is awesome to see that America got behind our love and it came during a very important time, so I’m glad that people were able to support us despite anything else that may be going on in the world. We are very honored to be getting that support.
JUSTINE: We’re very, very happy about that. It’s just so crazy because when we walked into the villa with everything going on, to come out and to hear that we have that much love and support, it almost makes me feel hopeful about how things are going on the outside.
One of the most emotional episodes was when you got to video chat with your families. The two of you had a special conversation afterwards, and Caleb, you talked about wanting to be a positive role model. What was that like, opening up to Justine in that moment?
CALEB: It was a very freeing feeling being able to open up to Justine about that and have her support during that conversation. Obviously, leading up to entering the villa, [I was] more than just aware of what goes in the world — [I was] very much so affected by what goes on in the world. So I was always mindful of how to carry myself to represent people. I was not just representing myself, I wanted to be a positive role model for men, but in particular Black men. Just to have that moment with my father and to hear him that say he was proud of me meant the world. I just feel really fortunate that people are supporting us in the way that they are.
What was the hardest part of the whole experience for each of you?
JUSTINE: Definitely being away from family, but I went into it ready to just embrace the whole experience, and I had backing from my family 100 percent walking into it. I think the hardest thing was just the lows — the parts where it’s like, how do I pick myself back up? To find that strength was the hardest, and on top of that, not having your family to help you with that was definitely tough.
CALEB: All of the same things that Justine just mentioned I was affected by, and I think all of the other Islanders were affected by as well. One other thing that I really struggled with was just having very little control over the structure of my day. Not ever having a say in when I woke up, or when I went to bed, or when I had lunch or dinner. I’m very much someone who just wants to do my own thing and I can’t wait to take control of my schedule again. So excited for that.
How does it feel to have famous fans? Chrissy Teigen, for one!
JUSTINE: It’s so surreal. You grow up idolizing these people and then you’re just like, what?! They know who I am? How is this real life? I heard that Chloe x Halle tweeted about me and I was just like, this is crazy. It’s crazy to think that they know us. It’s wild.
Not that your wardrobe wasn’t impeccable, Caleb, but this one’s for Justine — your style was on point. Were those all of your clothes, or were you sharing with the other girls?
JUSTINE: It’s just so shocking to hear that! I definitely packed most of my clothes. I love bright colors, so I was like, I’m going to wear all the bright colors. But it’s definitely crazy to hear that there was some sort of fashion icon thing going on, because when you see the other girls — I mean, I would look at Mackenzie’s style and be like, ‘Girl, can you help me?’ We all definitely had our own styles, so it was interesting to see that that was appreciated. Thank you!
How do you feel about watching the whole season back at some point?
CALEB: I can’t speak for Justine, but speaking for myself on this one, I am in no rush. I was there, I lived it, I know how it turned out. At some point I’ll go back and watch it, but really no rush. We were there for every moment of it.
JUSTINE: It’s definitely the same for me. Even just getting our phones back and seeing little clips on Instagram, I can’t even watch that! I’m like, cringing. So I can’t even watch a short clip, I don’t think I’ll be watching this back anytime soon.
What were you looking to get out of this experience and how did you end up applying?
JUSTINE: I’m a big fan of the show, and one of my friends was pushing me to apply. We love the show so much and we saw the heartbreak that I was going through, so having healed from that, they were like, ‘Justine, you should just go for it.’ So I applied and they called me back and I was like, ‘Oh, this is real life. This is happening.’ I was very anxious to get on the show because I am so passionate about finding love again, I don’t want heartbreak to deter me from wanting to keep going and find the real thing. And I thought that I could definitely find that on Love Island, so I was like, I’m going to put my all into this.
CALEB: Coming in, I was a little bit different in the sense that I wanted to have fun. I wanted to go in there and appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was so excited to do that. I knew that I had to be open-minded to the possibilities of love and romance, but wow, I did not expect to find someone like Justine and the connection that we have. That’s why a lot of this, right now, that we’re experiencing exiting the villa, it is crazy. To even digest what really just happened — we are literally so blessed to have gone in there and been intentional, but also just along for the journey and down to see what happens. To find love is just like, far cooler than anything I actually thought would happen in there.
Had you watched the show before?
CALEB: I started getting into the show a little bit once I learned that there was a chance I’d be on there. Fun story — I heard about the show about a year ago, when I was in London. I met a group of people and they were like, ‘Yo, you would do really well on this show called Love Island.’ That was the first time I ever heard about it, and then, boom. Crazy how that worked out.
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What did you learn about yourselves throughout the experience?
JUSTINE: I definitely knew that I’m an emotional and sensitive person, I’m not afraid to show vulnerability. But what I learned is that — that just escalated. I’m on a new level of that. And it’s okay to feel those things and express how you feel. I’m definitely taking away so much more confidence coming out of it, and one of those things for me is just like, girl, believe in yourself, believe in what you have to bring to the table, and what your worth is.
CALEB: I went in there confident in who I was as a person, but it became very apparent that I had to be a lot more vulnerable than maybe I anticipated being to get the most out of the experience. I had to just get to a point where I was like, you know what, I am comfortable with the person that I am, and I need to peel all the layers back in order to give Justine a real chance at us being together. And I’m very thankful she helped me to do that, because it definitely worked out for the best.
What’s your advice for future contestants?
JUSTINE: You know, there are going to be lows. Just talking to some of the other Islanders — even Caleb, he expressed that he had some lows in there where he just started questioning why he was there. I think we all went through that. So for future Islanders, I would say you’re not alone in that, there’s probably more people feeling the same thing that you are, so try to find the good in every single day and keep pushing and keep going, because you never know where you’ll end up.
Lastly, what can you tell us about your night in the hideaway? Can you describe it in one word?
CALEB: Oh man, you put us on the spot with this one. I don’t know if we can wrap it up into one word, but it was incredible to get away from the rest of the Islanders and have some privacy — well, our version of privacy. It was a very special moment.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Love Island are available to stream on CBS All Access.
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