How to Win Love Island: The Stars Speak Out About What It's Really Like in the Villa

Winners Zac Mirabelli and Elizabeth Weber, along with more of the season's contestants, spill secrets from the first season of the CBS reality show

By Lauren Piester Aug 08, 2019 11:02 PMTags
Love IslandCBS

Perhaps nothing this summer has been less surprising (in a good way) than the winning couple of CBS' Love Island

Zac Mirabelli and Elizabeth Weber coupled up in the very first moments of the show and never even contemplated breaking up, or in Love Island terms, turning their heads. In fact, as they told E! News after their win was announced, they knew they were in it for the long haul by day four, when Cormac arrived in the villa and asked Elizabeth out on a date. 

"When Elizabeth came back from her date with Cormac, like right after that, we had this little moment in the bathroom, and she was sitting on the counter and she just kinda wrapped her arms around me and pulled me in close and didn't want to let go," Zac said. "And I knew from that moment that we had something really special and I knew that her feelings were deep for me and I had deep feelings for her. And then after that I started having thoughts of, 'I want to make this girl my girlfriend.'" 

"I think that moment really solidified us, and we know without even having to say it that this was going to be us two throughout the entire journey," Elizabeth added. "We had made up our minds that it didn't matter who was going to come into the villa, we were only interested in each other." 

Zac recalled forming a group with some of the other guys in solid relationships called the Popcorn Club, where they could sit back and watch drama unfold. 

"I feel like from the beginning, I've kind of always been in the Popcorn Club by myself, honestly," he said. "And I was just watching everything else unfold, and it kind of allowed me to have a perspective to see everything that was going on and really give people advice on some of the choices that they should make." 


"It's actually funny," Elizabeth added, "On one of the recoupling nights, some of the people were nervous about their decisions they were going to make. And Zac, over here, took a nap. Out cold, sleeping on the couch, and we were all joking like, Zac looks real nervous over there about the recoupling. He's real worried about who I'm gonna pick." 

Who Won Love Island USA?

The couple is now preparing for life back in the real world and planning to binge the whole show together, but they're not worried about actual reality challenging their relationship. 

"We haven't really talked about like how we're going to make it work because I don't think that's something we really need to address," Elizabeth said. "I feel like we just naturally work, and we have such a strong connection, and we're very good at communicating. I can't picture us having a ton of issues, honestly." 

"I mean, I'm sure there will be some bumps down the road, but I don't think that they'll be anything too crazy or out of the norm," Zac added. "I can't say that it'll all be perfect because that's just unrealistic and we're only human beings at the end of the day, but I think the biggest thing with me and Elizabeth is we're always honest with each other and open and we communicate, and if you have those qualities, then I think you're good." 

The ride was pretty smooth for Zac and Elizabeth, but it didn't necessarily go that way for everybody. Below, you can read their advice for future islanders and the answers to some of the many questions we've had over the course of the season about what it's really like in that villa. 

The Casting

To find its sexy singles, CBS not only put out a casting call, but they also reached out to some contestants via their social media accounts. 

Alana Morrison was DM'd on Instagram about joining the show, and she first thought it had to be fake. 

"I was like, oh this is a scheme. They're going to kidnap me," she told us. "It's a pretty good scheme." 

The casting call said it was looking for "hot, outgoing singles who are looking to spend an entire summer in paradise." You have to be 18+, looking for your dream guy or girl, and "comfortable in a swimsuit on camera." 

Season two is currently casting

Boredom Galore

It's easy to get bored in the villa (especially with all that rain), and Michael Yi, the first dumpee from the island, described one particular day that was not only the most bored he ever was, but it also confirmed the fact that potential partner Caro was not for him. 

To sum it up, Caro first wanted to kiss, but not in front of anyone, then she didn't want to kiss, then she wanted to go upstairs and take pictures, and then she wanted to go outside, but then it was raining, but she wanted to get in the pool, then she wanted to get in the hot tub, but the hot tub was full of remnants of a coconut scrub, which Michael had to clean, but then Caro didn't want to go in the hot tub, and then she finally settled on an activity.

"She says here, let's make a dance. Once she said 'let's make a dance,' I said to myself, I'm actually babysitting right now. And that's when it clicked completely," Michael says of the 21 year old Caro. "I just knew it wasn't gonna work at that point." 

Yi really wished there were older women in the house, as no girl in the cast is older than 25. 

What We Missed

Michael said he watched the whole fourth season of the U.K. version of the show (available on Hulu), and liked how positive it seemed to be. Since he left Fiji, he watched the episodes he was in, and felt that he was portrayed as a much more serious guy than he actually is. 

"They didn't show any of the boys doing any of the stupid stuff," he says. "Like at some points we were all talking like, are these guys regretting bringing us out here, because we're just all talking about farts?" 

He also says we missed a lot of his relationship with Caro, and they didn't show a lot of discussions between the two, including one "big" discussion that wasn't included at all.

"That was a little upsetting, but it's all good. But it would have shown a lot about what she was doing and how I was reacting to that, and what I stood for." 

Alana Morrison also said that were conversations she had with her eventual ex Yamen that didn't get aired. 

The Magic of Editing

Alana was surprised at how quickly things didn't move. She assumed the games would go by quickly, but they tended to take around two hours. 

"I thought the games were going to happen super fast. The fastest thing that happened was when we were in the water. But when we were doing like Baggage Claim, those things take like two hours or so to record. But when I finally watched it, you guys only showed like 20 seconds! We stood out there in the rain! My teeth were chattering." 

That Weather

The islanders were not ready for all that rain. 

"We weren't [prepared]. Not at all. If I had known, I would have brought my umbrella," Alana says. "Unfortunately it rained a lot, but we still had to look good, or at least try." 

The New Arrivals

Christen McAllister and Katrina Dimaranan arrived in the villa on day 7 at both a serious advantage and disadvantage. They were forced to break up an already established couple, but they had all the power. Christen chose Yamen Sanders, who had been in a couple with Alana. 

Christen told us that prior to going on the show, she didn't know what position she'd be in. 

"I think everyone going in wants to be the main five, just because you are coupled up and it's a little bit easier transitioning I think," she says. "I'm a super confident person so I was going in there thinking I was going to be outgoing and going to be myself, but you don't really realize how intimidating and how scary it is walking in there with all these fresh faces, people who've already developed strong connections and you're kinda just there to be like, oops, sorry, I want to find love too, don't mind me." 

All that said, as Christen told us, she's got "no regrets." 

Time Moves Differently in the Villa

"I was there for five days, which is a freaking hot second, but I felt like I was there for a month," Christen told us. "You meet these people and you get so connected with all the girls and the guys and you realize how great everyone is as a person." 

That means it's a little easier to fall in love over a much shorter amount of time than you'd imagine that would normally take. As Mallory Santic explained, you have to be with your partner 24 hours a day. That allows for a relationship to develop quickly, or for someone to realize there's nothing there even quicker. 

"Like, I'm with this person 24 hours a day, and sharing a bed with them. I can't fake this relationship and have to kiss him in bed. I could not do it," Mallory told us of being coupled up with Weston.

It's Not a Game

That means it's also hard to play the show like a game. 

"I watched season four of the UK version before I went in, so I knew the set up, so before I went in I was like, the key to making it in the villa is find a guy in the very beginning and just act like you really like him and just make it to the end, but once I got in and was coupled up with Weston, he was a great guy, but he was so not for me. It was like you can't fake it," Mallory said. "It's impossible." 

The Tragedy of Love Island

At any moment, a new person could walk into the villa and be the right person for you, but you can't rely on that possibility if you want to stay on anyone's good side. 

"I'm like, if I had stayed another week with Weston, I could have met this new guy, but I don't want to be seen as the girl who stayed in the relationship and then jumped ship immediately when a new guy walked in. Like that's not a good look, and that's not how I am in real life." 

Michael said the same thing, and didn't blame Caro for choosing Cormac over him back at the beginning of the season, since he also would have jumped ship. 

Producer Communication

Mallory told us that producers mostly stayed out of what was happening, but they would occasionally pop out to redirect a conversation or two. 

"The only thing they would do was be like, maybe you could guys should talk about the recoupling, 'cause we would be sitting around the firepit talking about, like, sex, and they can't put that on TV," Mallory said. "So they'd be like, OK, let's talk about something important. But the conversations were real, like nothing was put into my mouth that I didn't want to say, so that was good. That surprised me, how truly real everything was." 

The Phones

Each islander was given a Samsung Galaxy phone to use, but all they could do was take pictures and send and receive texts. 

"They're real phones, but you can't do much," Mallory says. "We would like pick up our phones out of habit and be like, I don't know why I'm even looking at this. Nothing is on my phone." 

Mallory also revealed that production can read every text you send. 

"I was texting Caro like, how do you feel about the recoupling? And we just talked about it through text, and then I got called into the confessional and they're like, so tell me about the text conversation that you had with Caro, and I'm like, oh, you saw that?" 

But Mallory didn't mind the lack of most phone capabilities. 

"It was actually really nice, and now that I have my phone's like, oh god, I wish I was back in the villa where I was unbothered." 

The Music

The show's music budget is impressive, but only as it's airing. In the villa, there's almost no music. 

"Oh my god, it was so weird," Mallory said. "Like, every time they'd show us, like at the Wild Wild Weston party, when we're dancing, there's no music. Like we get ready, no music. It was so weird. And one day when we weren't filming, Elizabeth and I went out to lunch and we walked into a boutique and the boutique was playing music, and like out of pure instinct me and here were just like crazy dancing. We hadn't danced like that or heard music in so long, it was just so refreshing to hear a song. That's what I missed the most." 

Lookin' Good

As islanders got more used to the cameras and more tired of trying to look good at all times, everybody got a little more comfortable looking like themselves. 

"People would start to wear less make up or just no make up, and then as new people would come in, they would get ready a lot, but since they were new I feel like they had to dress up more," Alana recalled. "But I feel like when you're there and you get to know people and you get personal with people, you start to care a little less because you get more comfortable, and you can just look how you wanna look, 'cause on top of that, they do know what you look like when you wanna pop out. Like, let me turn this off for a second, but don't forget, I'll turn it back on by nighttime." 

Then again, for sleeping, Alana said she had to be realistic.

"If I go to bed trying to look cute, I'm going to wake up with my hair all matted and everyone's going to be hanging out in the morning and I'm going to be in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do with my hair." 

Zac and Elizabeth's Advice

"I would say just go into it with a really open heart and an open mind, and just put yourself out there and take the risk and do something wild and crazy and fun like this, and you just kind of never know what's in store," Elizabeth said as advice for future contestants. "I think everyone that came in and out of that villa, nobody left empty-handed. I think every single person who walked in and out of those doors and back out left with either fond memories or friendships. Whether it was leaving with a relationship or not, I think everybody walked out with something." 

And I would say if you truly come in here with an open mind, really follow your heart, you really do have the chance at finding something special and fun. So for anybody who thinks that you can't, you definitely can," added Zac. 

Love Island airs on CBS and will return next summer. You can currently watch the entire season on CBS All Access.