‘The boys didn’t fancy Asian girls’: Love Island’s Sharon Gaffka claims she was ‘scapegoated to tick a diversity box’ as she calls for more representation on hit dating show
- Sharon, 25, was one of four Asian contestants to appear on the 2021 series of Love Island alongside Shannon Singh, AJ Bunker and Priya Gopaldas
- Prior to Sharon’s season, the series has only seen four other South Asian contestants make it into the villa
- Latest news and updates on all of your favourite Love Island contestants
Sharon Gaffka has discussed the lack of Asian representation on Love Island, confessing she felt like she was only there to ‘tick a box’.
The former Love Island star, 25, claimed that none of the boys in the villa fancied Asian girls, meaning that the few that were on the show didn’t last long before being dumped.
Speaking on the Secure the Insecure podcast, she said she had high expectations of her series’ diversity, but later felt like she wasn’t ‘given an equal chance’.
Token: Sharon Gaffka has discussed the lack of Asian representation on Love Island, confessing to have felt like she was only there to ‘tick a box’
She said: ‘I walked into the villa first and when Shannon [Singh] walked into the villa, I was like “yeah, this year’s going to be so different,” because in the line-up there was Shannon, Faye [Winter], Kaz [Kwami, me and Lib [Liberty Poole] and we were all so different, and it felt like this year was going to be a little bit different.’
But she admitted: ‘I feel like Asian women were taken were taken as a token or a tick box in this series.
‘You know when you look back at the four Asian women that walked through those doors, they barely good a look in. So, myself, Shannon, Priya [Gopaldas] and AJ [Bunker]. That was the four Asian contestants from series seven of Love Island.
‘I don’t feel like any of us were given an equal chance at anything. It’s all well and good having a diverse line-up but if there isn’t diversity in what people find attractive then you’ve completely missed the mark and kind of wasted everyone’s time.’
Disappointed: The former Love Island star, 25, claimed that none of the boys in the villa fancied Asian girls, meaning that the few that were on the show didn’t last long before being dumped
She went on: ‘I felt like I was scapegoated for a tick box 95 percent of the time I was in the villa. It was so nice to have me and another Asian contestant Shannon there for the first couple of days but she was booted off within 24 hours and then AJ, I don’t know how long AJ was in there for but Priya wasn’t in there for very long either.’
Sharon continued to say that she was thankful for the opportunity to go on Love Island, but that it had come at a price.
She said: ‘It’s hard because you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you and I’m grateful to Love Island for giving me that experience but at the same time at what expense? At what expense to my race, to my culture, and to my personality and culture?
‘I made a positive contribution to the show in that a lot of Asian women have reached out to me and said thanks for being a representation on the show. Or, a lot of people from the queer community, for example, because I had conversations about coming out as bisexual on the show.’
High hopes: Sharon said she said she had high expectations of her series’ diversity when she arrived (pictured L-R Liberty Poole, Sharon, Kaz Kamwi, Faye Winter and Shannon Singh)
She then went on to say that the issue lay in the fact that the men in the villa didn’t fancy Asian girls.
‘I’m going to be quite frank, she explained. ‘No boy that went through that villa liked Asian girls. So what was the point of putting four Asian girls in there when you know damn well that no one will like them, no one will fancy them.
‘And then knowing what kind of come with Love Island in terms of trolling. I’ve been trolled lots of times because people didn’t find me attractive or don’t find me attractive but realistically it’s six men and obviously being bisexual it opens me to a lot more options.
‘That’s my character defamation, is that apparently nobody on that entire show fancied me. That’s why I feel like I was scapegoated and because I am well educated and my accent comes from Oxford.
‘So, naturally, people took to me as I’m posh, I’m stuck up and I think I’m better than everyone else, and that’s what I mean by being scapegoated when actually none of those things are true at all.’
Speaking on the lack of diversity from the male side, Sharon said ‘We’ve not really yet, in my mind, had enough representation from Asian men at all.’
She explained the importance of representation, saying: ‘I feel like one of my go to’s and drives in life is that I didn’t have someone like me to look up to growing up in life.
‘So, I want to be that person for other people and I’ve done that with everything I do, whether it’s something really small like winning an award at whatever sport I’m playing to my career, to now being on reality TV.’
Prior to Sharon’s season on Love Island, the only other South Asian contestants on Love Island were season one’s Omar Sultani, season two’ Malin Andersson in 2016, season five’s Nabila Badda season six’s Nas Majeed.
MailOnline has contacted a Love Island spokesperson for comment.
Grateful: Sharon continued to say that she was thankful for the opportunity to go on Love Island, but that it had come at a price
Love Island has previously been slammed by fans and former contestants for lack of different ethnic backgrounds, body types and members of the LGBT community represented on the show.
However, representatives for the reality show told MailOnline ahead of the 2021 series: ‘As a broadcaster, ITV celebrates diversity of every sort across our range of programmes in our schedule and across our channels.
‘In terms of casting for Love Island, the only stipulation to applicants is they must be over 18, single and looking for love.
‘This year’s Love Islanders come from a diverse range of backgrounds with a mix of personalities and have a healthy BMI.’
Quick exit: Sharon entered the Love Island villa on day one alongside fellow Asian contestant Shannon Singh (pictured) however she was dumped from the island the following day
This year’s Love Island is set to be its most diverse yet, however, as it has been reported that the show’s bosses are actively encouraging non-binary Islanders to apply.
The popular ITV2 reality show is accepting applications from those who do not identify as male or female for the 2022 series, reports The Sun.
When asked for their gender on the application form, hopefuls are given the option to put male, female, non-binary, prefer not to say or prefer to self-describe.
In and out: Andrea-Jane ‘AJ’ Bunker entered the villa on day 17 and managed to last five days, being dumped from the island on day 23
They are also asked to state their sexual orientation as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or other.
A TV source told the publication: ‘Producers are under more pressure than ever to make this series as woke as possible after it has previously come under criticism for its lack of diversity.
‘The move could make the basic rules of the show complicated, as each coupling ceremony separates boys and girls, but they are keen to have a non-binary contestant this year. It’s all about inclusivity and breaking down boundaries.’
Fleeting: The final Asian contestant to enter the villa was Priya Gopaldas, who arrived on day 42 and was booted out eight days later on day 50
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