When Cynthia Taylu entered the Love Island villa, she didn’t think she’d last a week let alone be standing there at the finale. However on Thursday night she did just that, placing third with her parter, Aaron Shaw.
The 23-year-old, who was born in Liberia, west Africa, said she knew dating on the show would be challenging, because she “wasn’t going to be everyone’s type”.
“I think for me going into the villa, I always knew that I wasn’t always going to be everyone’s type or that stereotypical Australian beauty,” she told HuffPost Australia.
Cynthia was the first black contestant to appear on the Australian version of Love Island, and the show’s first night sparked a race debate amongst viewers when the initial pairing-up process left contestant Cynthia the last to be picked.
“I always knew I wasn’t going to be everyone’s type. I’m fine with that and I was happy with being coupled up with Sam the very first time,” said Cynthia.
“I just try not to take offence to it because I think once you start kind of using your race as a bad thing or be like, ‘Oh they didn’t pick me because I’m black’, [it could’ve] just like really ruined my experience.
“It’s just one of those things, you just kind of go into it and you just know you’re not going to be everyone’s type, but at the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with who you are.”
The actress and model also said she decided to apply for Love Island because she believed cultural representation on television is important.
“For me, I watched the show last year and that was something that I noticed, ‘Oh there’s not really much diversity’,” she said.
“Obviously I did go on the show to find love but I also thought it would be really cool for someone of my background to go on a show that’s about love.”
She said she’s “really happy” to have set an example for other young women of colour, who “can be a bit scared of putting themselves out there and doing particular things because they feel as though people won’t accept them because of their colour”.
“Accept yourself for who you are. Think of yourself as an individual and go for it,” she said.
After struggling to find romance in the Fiji villa, Cynthia recently connected with latecomer, Aaron Shaw.
While the pair didn’t win the show on Thursday night, Cynthia said she’s “excited” for their future together.
“To get this far is just absolutely amazing and to have met Aaron is just incredible,” she said. “I’m so grateful and excited for what the future has in store.”
On Thursday night Anna McEvoy and Josh Packham pocked $50,000 when they were named the 2019 winners of Love Island Australia, while Cartier Surjan and Matt Zukowski were the runners-up.