Rachel Finni: ‘Love Island Wanted To Put A Black Woman In To Appease People – To Shut People Up.’

The reality star talks to Grazia about her experience as the first ever black bombshell in the villa...

Rachel Finni Love Island bombshell diversity casting

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

When Rachel Finni strode into the Love Island villa last summer, Twitter erupted with celebration over the long-overdue landmark moment: In seven seasons of the show, she was the first-ever black bombshell. ‘Finally! Go Rachel,’ enthused one viewer. ‘Now THAT is a bombshell,’ emphasised another.

‘They got an amazing reaction when I walked in,’ Rachel tells Grazia. But she claims she was put in 'as a diversity cast. It was purely to make them look good. They didn’t care about the black bombshell. They just wanted to put a black woman in at that time to appease people - to shut people up.’

‘I told them that my dream guy looked something between Jason Momoa and Will Smith,’ she says. ‘Dark-skinned, Arabic looking, dark features or black. A bit rough and ready…You can see there was no one throughout the entire casting of the show that fit that description.’

Quickly after Rachel’s entrance to the show, celebration turned to horror. Left to pick between Chuggs and Brad McClelland, she opted for the latter, only to quickly be shafted and sent packing in the subsequent episode after blonde (white) bombshells were brought in who were more the boys' type.

Rachel claims she was told by two members of ITV post-show that I was put in as a diversity cast. ‘When casting for the show, you’re interviewed for up to six months. Every day they ask you what your type was… Knowing my type, knowing Brad and Chuggs’ type, you knew we wouldn’t have liked each other so, they put me in to save Brad and had girls flown over in after me that wanted him.’

‘The night before the re-coupling I was told to have a conversation with Brad where I begged him to pick me in the next recoupling,’ she continues. ‘I refused to do it because it would have played into the whole broken-hearted girl image… It would have made it look like I genuinely had an interest in him.’

Looking back on the experience, Rachel says there’s nothing wrong with people being upfront about who they’re attracted. ‘[Producers] need to make it a comfortable space for people to be specific about what their type is,’ she says. ‘There’s nothing wrong with saying you like dark hair, dark features, more on the black side in contrast to the Asian side or the Caucasian side. As long as you’re not using those words to insult someone in a derogatory way it’s okay to only be attracted to black. It’s okay to only be attracted to white.

'If you’ve got a lot of guys that are attracted to blonde hair blue eyes, make sure you’ve got some guys in there also attracted to black girls'

‘But make sure in asking those questions that you are putting people in there that are attracted both,’ she explains. ‘If you’ve got a lot of guys that are attracted to blonde hair blue eyes, make sure you’ve got some guys in there also attracted to black girls and Asian girls, don’t just throw people in there for the sake of ticking a box. Let people be specific about their type and know you’re not being derogatory by using it in a positive sense.’

Rachel, like endless fans online, is calling for producers to stop routinely placing one black woman and one black man in the original line up of each series. ‘It happens every season,’ she says. ‘It’s so structured… You’ll get one black guy and girl in during Casa Amor and if you’re lucky a few mixed-race people thrown in as bombshells. It’s not diverse enough and it adds to the perception that we’re tokens. We’re not put in there because we’re desirable.

‘When I came out I was so scared that being so honest about a popular show would affect the brand deals coming in, my new career as a full time influencer, and put off anyone else wanting to work with me,’ she admits. ‘I’m no longer scared; I don’t need ITV’s backing. I’m not an influencer, I have a 9-5 job. I know now that me being honest isn’t going to affect my future so I can now come out and say it.

‘Everything I’ve said, you can see it in the show,’ she continues. ‘I don’t have to lie because the facts are on demand for millions and billions of people to see whenever they want. I’ve been titled the most violated contestant ever in Love Island history and I didn’t have anyone to advise me as a Black woman. I don’t want [future contestants] to end up like all the other black Love Islanders before me. So, I’m doing this for them. '

Of Rachel’s comments, an ITV spokesperson told Grazia: ‘We would take any suggestion that any editorial decisions are made based on race very seriously indeed and would refute this in the strongest possible terms.

‘The opinions the Islanders have and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves. As we have said since series one, Love Island is a combination of reality and produced elements.’

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