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Ekin-Su Promises to Spill in New Book — But First, She’s Answering Our ’Love Island’ Logistical Questions

A hot new bombshell enters the villa — er, Us Weekly studio — to answer all of the burning questions about life on Love Island.

Arguably one of the most popular cast members in Love Island history, Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu (whom you may also know from season 2 of Peacock’s The Traitors) didn’t shy away from answering questions about the dating series during an exclusive interview with Us nearly two years after she and now ex Davide Sanclimenti won the show.

“It feels like a Sims game. When I walked in, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a computer game.’ … It just didn’t feel real,” Ekin-Su explained. “And for me to make it feel real, I had to [wrap my head around] the idea of, ‘This is it. The cameras? Ignore them.’ So it took me about a week to just completely ignore everything and then be me. Because I was like, ‘This is surreal! There’s cameras in the toilets!’ Like, I can’t physically do No. 2 — I just couldn’t. Everyone’s beds are literally [so] close. But I swear, this is not a lie, nobody from my season had sex on TV. There’s been a few blow-dries — nail salon salons as they’ve called it.”

Every summer, reality TV fans become obsessed with Love Island, which drops daily episodes and follows a group of “islanders” living in isolation in a villa looking for love. Islanders who are not in a couple find themselves at risk of being sent home as “bombshells” enter throughout the summer to tempt the existing duos. The winning couple takes home £50,000 ($100,000 on Love Island USA) and is flooded with opportunities to appear on additional shows and sign brand deals — and sometimes they leave with a successful relationship.

Ekin Su Promises to Spill in New Book But First Shes Answering Our Love Island Logistical Questions
Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu Us Weekly

Ekin-Su and Davide, for their part, called it quits earlier this year. Among other things, she promises to touch on the reasons behind the split in her upcoming book, Be Your Own Best Friend, out August 29.

“[The title] Be Your Own Best Friend stems from myself and what I went through in life as a kid — being extremely bullied, moving schools, having no friends pretty much all my life and sticking out for myself and going through stuff in life where I felt very lonely. And I had a breakthrough in life where I had to be my own best friend in pretty much every scenario,” she explained. “And it’s a book for people who struggle with not being confident. … There’s some stuff about my breakup in there as well. Some bits about what really happened.”

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Ekin-Su noted that she got emotional several times during the recording of the audiobook. “I had to take breaks [recording it],” she said. “I actually cried when I read some of the chapters with Davide, like, we are not together anymore, but reading when you win something together, it gets to you.” She added that there’s nothing “bad” about him in the book — just facts. “It wasn’t done in a malicious way,” she said. “I really do wish him well.”

Ekin Su Promises to Spill in New Book But First Shes Answering Our Love Island Logistical Questions
Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu and Davide Sanclimenti John Phillips/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

While fans wait for Be Your Own Best Friend — which is available for preorder now — to get more about Ekin-Su’s personal story, both Love Island UK and Love Island USA are heating up. Keep reading for Ekin-Su’s answers to burning questions about living in the villa:

Do Islanders know what time it is?
No, but I knew from the sun. When the sun strikes a certain way, I could guess if it’s afternoon or night.

How much sleep do you get?
You get exhausted because sometimes they put you to bed at, like, 3 a.m. — you don’t know for sure, but as an example. They do make sure that you sleep seven hours a night. Medics are always watching you when you’re sleeping, there’s medics literally behind the walls. You are really safe and looked after.

The Islanders sleep in bed with their current partner. If they don’t want to, they are often shown sleeping outside. Why don’t they sleep in one of the extra beds in the room — is that for dramatic effect?
I think so. I mean, I wish I slept outside. [Davide and I] actually planned to sleep and watch the stars one night. It never happened ’cause drama happened. But it was the thing I wish I did because it’s just romantic, isn’t it?

Do you feel claustrophobic in that backyard?
It’s not big. So when my family came and visited me, they were like, ‘It’s tiny!’ It’s the effects on the screens. It’s small. It’s intense, darling. Like, the gym’s there, [then] the beanbags are there, the fire pit. Everything’s quite close so you can actually hear people talking.

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How do meals work? The Islanders are never shown eating!
We have a catering that comes in the afternoon that is not aired. It’s not glamorous. It comes in a silver tray like school dinner. You sit in the kitchen — boys on one side, girls on the other side. We’re not allowed to talk about the show. We’re not allowed to talk to each other. We’re always talking about food. ‘Can you pass me the ketchup? Hey, how are you? That’s it.’ The food is nice, it’s usually very healthy. But you do get burger days and stuff like that. On your days off, we get to order McDonald’s, Chinese or pizza, which is really cool, but, again, we don’t get to talk to each other because of story lines, you have to save it for the actual filming. They don’t show that so you think we don’t eat anything, but we do. We ate a lot. On our season, Gemma [Owen] and I used to eat chocolate every day.

Did you feel like you drank a lot?
You have one drink a day. It’s not a lot, but it hits you because it’s hot and because you don’t drink much, that one drink seems like three drinks.

How does someone pack for Love Island — and do brands give clothes?
There’s never enough bikinis. If you make it towards the end, you obviously run out of clothes, so then we all start borrowing each other’s stuff. Sometimes production’s really sweet and they’ll have an eBay night and they’ll bring, like, secondhand clothes, which is a great thing to do, by the way. And on an eBay night, there’d be a section for me, for instance. I’d get to pick an outfit for, like, a blue-themed night where everyone wears blue. [The brand deals] come after the show.

What about makeup and hair products? Getting ready is always such a big scene every episode.
You have two hours to get ready, sometimes three if we’re lucky. I got ready in sometimes 20 minutes, don’t ask me why. Indiyah was always the slowest. Indiyah [Polack] would literally be the last girl up there, and they’d be like, ‘Come on, Indiyah!’ But she was, like, stunning. Everyone was just so diverse and stunning. But no, makeup takes two to three hours, you have your shower that’s included in it. Everyone brings their own makeup, but you have to rebrand things [based on if] Love Island has any sponsorships.

Are Islanders ever not mic’d?
You are mic’d all the time. Even if you’ve got a day off, the producers watch you. So if a new person comes, [and you ask] like, ‘Do you know how many followers I’ve got on Instagram?’ The producer’s like, ‘OK, you know why this person is in this villa.’ They take notes. But if you’re genuinely in there and you forget everything and you really wanna meet someone, which I did, it magically happens.

What percent of Islanders are looking for love over fame?
I’m not gonna give you names, but when I was on my show, I knew from day one who was in there for what. And when the show finished, everyone was like, ‘Ekin, you were right.’ So I’m usually good at reading people. That was one of my talents on the show and I generally didn’t think I was gonna win. … The audience is also so clever. You can tell who’s faking it. You can tell who’s actually in love. You can tell who’s insecure. You can tell who’s lost a little bit on the show — there’s always the one person who’s lost and doesn’t talk to anyone. That person usually gets sent home early. They’re not doing anything. People say, ‘You are on holiday.’ We are not on holiday, guys! You’re working. It’s a TV show. We know it’s a TV show. It’s what we signed up for.

Do you ever have to repeat, “I got a text!”
If someone’s like, ‘I got a text,’ if I’m a producer, I’m gonna be like, ‘Do that again, babe!’ So better you do it [with enthusiasm] or yeah, they do make you do that again.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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