Kaz Kamwi: ‘Love Island Has Given Me A Voice, And I Intend To Use It’

After her time on Love Island, the fan favourite reflects on why fair representation is so important in front of, and behind, the camera.

Kaz Kamwi

by Kaz Kamwi |
Updated on

When I went into Love Island, honestly, I didn’t even think I would be in there for a week - but I made the final, made some incredible, lifelong friends [{href='https://graziadaily.co.uk/celebrity/news/liberty-poole-love-island/' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'}{ =nofollow}) and met my now-boyfriend, Tyler.

I have genuinely loved the show for years and it has already given me experiences I could have only ever dreamed of. I was an online content creator and blogger before Love Island so I had a foot in the industry, but the past few months have been full of amazing ‘pinch me’ moments. My own collection with Boux Avenue, being on the NTA’s red carpet, and sitting in a room of heroes at the Pride of Britain Awards, just to name a few highlights.

I decided to go onLove Island because I hadn’t been in a long-term relationship since 2019, and the pandemic obviously made dating people very hard. So, when I was approached for the show after lockdown, I thought not only would it be a great way to meet someone in real life - but it’d also mean I’d meet people who are already on my wavelength, as they’re crazy enough to want to meet someone on a show like Love Island{ =nofollow}!

Unsurprisingly, a show like this has its major highs but also some tough lows. For me the journey to the final was exhilarating, fun but also emotional.

I'm lucky in the sense that I consider myself a very strong person, hence why I felt I was more than capable to commit to a reality show, and not only cope, but absolutely thrive. I deal with adversities well, and I like to think - for the most part - quite gracefully.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact my experience this summer was difficult at times.

When you’re happy in the villa, you’re really happy - but when you’re sad, you can be really sad. And of course it’s even tougher when you don’t have your usual support system of your family around you. This isn’t unique to me, of course. Many have spoken about the highs and lows of filming TV shows – it’s unsurprising really given the nature of the concept and it’s also something production supports and prepares you for.

As one of the originals of the 2021 series, I ended up in a default couple as I wasn’t picked. You do have to expect this outcome, because when you’re talking with the show psychologists beforehand, they prepare you for this eventuality. Of course, it was a bit disappointing - but I looked on the bright side … I thought I’d either end up in a friendship couple which might grow into something romantically, or that somebody else might walk in. So I thought: fine, let’s get on with it, let’s keep moving.

As the days, and then weeks went on, my thinking started to change. I thought, hang on a moment, everybody in here has a type which isn’t me.

I was always honest with the show’s production and psychologists and flagged to them how I was feeling. The last thing I wanted was to be a box-ticker and it was hard to not take the rejection personally. Aside from being ‘petite’, I just wasn’t fitting in with what the guys were looking for ‘on paper’. I did start to wonder whether the show was the right path for me, because it was hard to know if I was in the right place.

Outside of the villa, this wasn’t how my dating life looked. Yes, I had been single for a few years - but that doesn't mean I didn’t get approached by guys. So, I had to remind myself that this was a unique situation and I’m still that girl - and decided that I wasn’t going to let it knock my confidence. My new friends in the villa, and the producers were amazing supporting me through this too.

But what I worry about is the bigger impact of this, and where the real damage can be done. It’s a message that Black women may be seen as undesirable. When I think about younger Black women and men - whether that's my younger sisters, or my audience - there are so many impressionable young minds who watch prime-time TV. When these young people see someone who resembles them within a projected negative narrative, it can be so damaging to their self-image, esteem and overall mental health.

Positive representation matters – as Marian Wright Edelman once said, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’

Fair representation in terms of race, class, disability and gender on all TV and broadcast platforms, in front and behind the camera is so important. And this will have such a positive impact within the whole chain from concept to output. Following Love Island, [and eventually finding love through the show], I now have a new platform and it’s my goal to use my voice in a positive way. If I can bring about change for future contestants or those thinking about a TV career, I’d love to do so.

Things are getting better, I see it, and that’s a great thing but we still have a way to go. What is progressive now is the amount of open conversations and listening which is taking place – talking alone can be a vehicle for change. I’m working to become a stronger voice in the conversation moving forward. Ultimately, I want to be part of the movement and one day in the rooms where decisions are made to represent the ideas and wants of my generation in an authentic, positive way.

READ MORE: Love Island: Kaz Is The Friend We All Need In Our Lives

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