Love Island 2018 was the backdrop to my summer, with the various dramas (did Georgia kiss Josh?), awkward staged ‘parties’ and shock betrayals (Wez dumping Laura) punctuating two fairly idyllic months of sunshine and England’s football team almost, but not quite, bringing it home. South-Londoner and self-professed ‘Thai Princess’ Kaz Crossley stepped into the ITV madness relatively late, introduced to the programme on Day 26. In one of the many surprises of the series, she coupled up with Josh Denzel; leaving his original partner, Georgia Steel (of “I’m loyal babes” fame), furious. Kaz and Josh went on to win third place in the competition, before returning to London, dating for six months and announcing their split a few days after they got back from a sponsored holiday to Miami. Cynicism aside, interviewing Kaz at the Union has to be one of the highlights of my Cambridge career so far. It was not long ago that her face was projected onto a friend’s wall in College as we gathered each night to watch the latest episode.
I had expected Kaz to be guarded on some topics, particularly her split with Josh, but she readily brought his name into the conversation, and seemed genuinely excited when I told her that I’d seen her Boohoo campaign poster in Cambridge. She sipped on a glass of wine as she answered my questions, laughing regularly and exuding the sense that she does not take herself too seriously.
I started the conversation by asking her how her year was going.
“My year’s going amazing […] so much better than I thought it was going to be. The first big deal I got was the Boohoo [fitness range] thing but even then, I just thought that was unreal […] I was a makeup artist for so long, and I worked so hard doing that and being a freelance makeup artist and working on counters here and there and whatever. To have brands come and want to work with me, like Inglot [a cosmetics company] […] That was insane. I can’t believe the year I’ve had”.
I was curious: does she have any regrets about going to the villa and the choices she made while there?
“Not at all. I have no regrets. I probably would say if I was going to do it any different just to enjoy it even more than I did because when you’re in there […] it gets kind of familiar to you and you just think that it’s normal but then you come out and you’re like “I just wish I could go back in!” Because you don’t have any worries really […] You don’t have to pay for anything, you don’t have to clean, you don’t have to cook, all you have to do is sunbathe and look at pretty people so it’s not a bad life. I would do it again to be honest!”
Surely it must have been difficult at times. Who was the hardest person to live with?
“Probably Georgia [Steel], just because she was so loud and out there and obviously, she didn’t like me at first. I had to live in a situation where it was kind of awkward […] We actually ended up getting on with each other in the end”.
Funnily enough, she admits that Laura Anderson, one of the women with whom she “had the most arguments in the villa”, has now become her closest Love Island friend. Why did they not get on?
“Because we’re so similar and so honest and just say whatever. But then it will get forgotten about…I find her the most real out of all the Love Islanders and we have a proper connection.”
What was the most challenging aspect of being in the villa for a whole summer? Missing the World Cup?
“I didn’t really care about the World Cup. I heard it was really good, but it was Josh that really cared about that because he’s a sport’s presenter. The hardest thing probably was just the complete seclusion from everything and the fact you don’t really have any say. You can’t do what you want. You have to ask permission to do certain things. You have to go to bed when they tell you to go to bed, you have to wake up when the brightest f***ing light comes on, and oh my gosh you’re so tired; you’ve only had like four hours sleep and then you have to go out into the 30-degree heat and do a challenge and sit there for ten hours.”
Ten hours? Were the challenges really that long?
“You have to think the challenges are on TV for two minutes but it takes us hours and hours to sit there and do the takes and they have to reset the thing. If there was a messy challenge and everything goes everywhere every time they have to reset it for the next person. So, you have to just sit there and wait”.
Having discussed life in the villa, the conversation moved on to a more serious topic: diversity. Much was written about the lack of diversity on the show, particularly among female contestants, with Little Mix’s Leigh publicly tweeting that she had stopped watching the programme in protest. I asked Kaz what her take is on the issue. Does she think there was a diversity issue?
“Yeah, probably. I mean, what there was just Samira [the only black female contestant of the entire series] and then there was me [Kaz is half-Thai] … I think that they put us in there to make it diverse […] But if you look at it, it’s not like it’s an even number and stuff […] it’s quite bad that it’s not really balanced like that.”
After a pause, she continued: “I didn’t even realise it when I was on the show but me and Josh were, you know, the “ethnic couple”. I didn’t even think about it all. I’m half-white myself and my mum’s Asian and stuff but people were really rooting for us from the Black community and the BAME community. It would be nice to have more people for them to relate to because it was like they were only supporting us because we were the only diverse couple on there.”
As our conversation drew to a close, I had time for one more question. Will she be watching Love Island 2019?
“It’s going to be so weird. I don’t want there to be new people. I want it to just be us forever! But it’s going to be even bigger probably so it will be exciting to see, especially because I know what it’s like to be in there. It‘s completely different when you’re the public watching it.”