Amy Hart won over viewers of Love Island during a rollercoaster ride on the ITV2 show. She spoke to reporter James Butler about what life is like as Sussex’s resident of the moment.
To say that Amy Hart has had a busy few months is a bit of an understatement.
The 27-year-old traded a career as an air stewardess for British Airways for a chance to find romance on Love Island, one of ITV’s most popular television shows.
And while it did not pan out as she had hoped, the experience has changed her life: resulting in a spot as a guest panellist on Loose Women, 1.2million Instagram followers and overnight fame.
But speaking to the Herald from the comfort of her home in Worthing, West Sussex, following a busy few weeks, Amy said she will never forget her roots.
She said: “To everyone who has supported me, I just want to say thank you so much, it means a lot – to have your local town behind you is amazing. I am a very proud Worthing girl, I always have been.”
Amy reacts to Internet trolling
Despite the outpouring of support online and in person, Amy has already experienced the downsides of fame, with online trolls insulting her appearance, and even criticising her public support for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, a charity her family has been heavily involved in.
She said: “I have been given this platform. I have 1.2million people on my Instagram. I have 50,000 people on my Twitter. I could use it to sell diet pills, I could use it to sell coffee that’s going to make you skinny. But if I could get 1.2million people knowing what Chestnut Tree is... how can you argue with that?”
Amy drew comparisons between her treatment and that of Kenny Tutt, a Worthing banker who won Masterchef in 2018.
She said: “I think people love to hate Love Island, and I’m sure nobody said nasty things about Kenny when he was on Masterchef.
“Kenny followed his dreams, I went on there to meet someone, I don’t understand why you just can’t be happy for people.
“I feel like it is a waste of energy. I just hope you don’t need that energy one day, that you’ve wasted on me.”
How Amy got on Love Island
It was on a work trip to Kingston in October that Amy decided to film an audition video for the show. Out of 130,000 applicants, she was among the 36 contestants that made the final cut; a figure made more impressive by the fact that she was only one of six islanders that had not been asked to apply by producers.
After questionnaires and interviews, Amy found out the news she had been accepted to the show in April – and said it had been hard not to tell anyone.
She said: “We were in a bar in Spain the week before I went into lockdown, and I was getting everyone up dancing, and this hen party was asking for selfies with me. So I kept saying: ‘You can keep that, you’re going to need that in two weeks’ and Hannah [Stakim, Amy’s best friend] was like ‘Get out now. Everyone’s going to know’. A lot of that hen party have messaged me on Instagram saying we’ve still got those selfies.”
'Amz, you were never eligible for a Bafta at any point'
Amy was one of the first two girls in the Majorcan villa, along with eventual winner Amber Gill, and became a frontrunner for the title with her partner, 23-year-old dancer Curtis Pritchard.
But after he confessed to liking another girl, a heartbroken Amy decided to leave the show on day 37, giving an exit speech to Curtis and her fellow islanders that left many viewers in tears.
She said: “I watched my exit back the other day, and I was like ‘seriously Amz, you were never eligible for a Bafta at any point’. I was very very dramatic.
“Everyone says people only go on Love Island for fame, but I proved that’s not true.
“I could have stayed longer, I could have got more Instagram followers, I could have got more screen time, but I chose not to. I chose to leave because I wasn’t going to find anyone else in there so why would I stay? I’d rather go home.”
What Amy thinks of ITV's mental health care
Much has been written about how ITV looks after the mental health of its contestants, after two former islanders died.
Amy said she has been given a therapist that will work with her for at least 18 months, and praised the support she received on the show: “I was seeing a psychologist every day towards the end when I was in there,” she said.
“You can ask to see the psych, but the psych sits in the gallery and watches everyone all day, every day.
“There were times where I thought ‘oh I don’t want to burden anyone with how I feel’ and the psych would call me out of the villa and speak to me.”
'I like coming home because I can just be normal'
One of the pressures of being on a show with six million viewers is being recognised on the street.
While Amy had ‘learned to lip read ‘that’s Amy Hart from Love Island’’ and was spotted in the car park of McDonalds in Shoreham recently with her friend, local residents had respected her privacy.
She said: “When I’m at events, and I’m with all the other islanders, it’s like ‘oh there’s Amy from Love Island’.
“When I’m just walking down Montague Street with no makeup on, my hair scraped back and in a tracksuit, nobody notices it’s me which is quite nice.
“I like coming home because I can just be normal.”
'I need a cheesy nightclub back in Worthing'
While her fellow contestants were enjoying VIP booths at London’s hottest clubs, the former Worthing Musical Comedy Society member was enjoying being invited to see West End shows instead.
She said: “Partying has never been the same for me since Retro club closed and changed to Molotov.
“I need a cheesy nightclub back in Worthing; maybe that is what I’ll do with my platform.”
Can Amy find her Mr Right in Worthing?
Having previously said she could not find a boyfriend in Worthing, has she changed her mind about finding Mr Right in her hometown?
“I hope so,” she said. “Obviously a lot more people know who I am now, so I’ve got a lot more options.
“I don’t really want to move away from Worthing; it would be easier to meet someone in Worthing than convince someone to move to Worthing.”
Amy discusses her plans for the future
With a winter series of Love Island debuting early next year, Amy recognised her window of opportunity to build a career was smaller than for previous contestants.
But with aspirations to build on her television appearances and some ‘really exciting things in the pipeline’, she said the future was what she made of it.
She said: “I could go down the route of quite frivolous things, but I’m trying to edge towards the more serious stuff.
“I have turned a lot of stuff down. Because I could make money now, and it will be done in six months, or I can make better choices and hopefully have a bit more longevity. But you never know what’s around the corner; it could all finish tomorrow so I’m just trying to enjoy it while I can.”