Love Island’s Kaz Kamwi on Being Called a Model

Even before she started studying sociology at university, she joined her mother in a local soup kitchen and, although she said she was not much help in the kitchen, she took on the role of welcoming and talk to everyone who came to eat.

“I found that I had a great time and had great conversations with a lot of people,” she says.

“I always knew I had a knack for wanting to help people…I never really knew what I wanted to do. I always say that I spent a lot of time in college just vibrating. I was there for the vibes and the vibes alone.

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And spreading good vibes is a skill not to be sniffed at. It is without a doubt that Kamwi has been endowed with a natural charm. Despite never watching a single episode of the show that catapulted Kamwi into the public eye, longtime salesman Logan is snapping phone shots with this “absolute angel” in the 20s minutes following his meeting.

It was this desire for a good time, good talk and good banter that led her to apply to be on Love Island: “I’m not funny, we were in a pandemic for about two years, I I was like, ‘Ooh vacation, take me there! she laughs.

Kamwi’s 2021 stint on the island is memorable for her fan-favorite relationship with Tyler Cruickshank – which recently ended – for being a girl’s girl, for bringing levity and positivity to the villa.

She also suffered horrific online abuse and trolling after the show, and has since spoken about the importance of portraying black women in media as successful and desirable.

Despite her winning charm and obvious good looks, Kamwi says what would happen after the show — the fame and constant scrutiny former islanders endured — barely crossed her mind, thinking she would only go through a few weeks of the show.

As the season ended and Kamwi emerged to find her social media had exploded, she recalled asking “people call me a model, I’m just like, ‘OK but why?’.”

Kamwi acknowledges that being a positive role model is now something that is expected of her, as “people want there to be good role models”. But, she says, “it’s hard to show up every time, even when you’re not feeling well, and people expect you to, but you’re not a robot.”

Other influencers have come under fire for the insights they’ve expressed lately, and as our conversation progresses and we maneuver into more difficult territory, it’s clear that Kamwi has the self-awareness to navigate the subject carefully.

Kamwi’s fellow Love Islander Molly Mae Hague recently sparked widespread backlash for her comments on poverty, inequality and privilege, in the soundbite: “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.”. Kamwi declines to comment on the matter.

After our interview, she heads to the Pretty Little Thing fashion show where Hague is showcasing her latest range for London Fashion Week. Outside, islander Brett Staniland held up a sign proclaiming: ‘There’s nothing pretty about wage theft’, a reference to an investigation which found that Boohoo, the parent company of Pretty Little Thing , paid garment workers just £3.50 an hour.

“Anyone with a platform can have an impact, positive or negative…what kind of impact you have is up to you,” Kamwi reflects.

So how does Kamwi intend to use its new platform?

“The main thing I want is for people to feel like they can be authentically themselves,” she says. “I’m so keen on getting out of my comfort zone that I try new things all the time.”

Rebecca R. Santistevan