Life after Love Island: Leaving Cert discos, Longford and a return to practicing law
What do you do after starring on the biggest show on television? This year's Love Island contestants are navigating the tricky world of post-reality TV with more intelligence and consideration than their predecessors, writes Caitlin McBride
Life after reality TV is a complex road to navigate: do you become a professional celebrity, whose biggest career goal is appearing as a contestant on Strictly, or adopt a more reasonable approach to your future?
In the case of this year’s Love Island contestants, arguably the most high profile to emerge while the show is at peak popularity, they are finding their way through the tricky waters of life when you’re no longer the most talked-about person at the watercooler.
For two months, they dominated news agendas, an example of both the quiet silly season in newsrooms and an endorsement of the show’s extraordinarily wide reach.
Irish rugby player Greg O’Shea, who won with girlfriend Amber Gill, and Maura Higgins, seem to be the best equipped for what lay ahead, adopting two roads, both bursting with potential successes.
In the immediate aftermath, ITV essentially ‘own’ the eight finalists in order to ensure that they receive the professional psychological care required to adjust to mainstream fame outside the villa, and to have the opportunity of first refusal for any business opportunities.
Maura, the breakout star of the show, landed an almost immediate gig as an agony aunt on ITV’s This Morning, a shrewd move by network bosses who wanted to encourage loyalty with the most talked about woman of the summer without committing to a specific plan.
Her first appearance was, as expected, a runaway hit and she delivered frank advice to callers in her new capacity as resident agony aunt.
It’s likely she’ll secure her own show and has reportedly signed a contract confirming her future at the station while both she and network bosses work to find the best fit to capitalise on her growing fame in a practical way.
Now in its fifth year, ITV has made all the rookie mistakes and knows that basing a follow-up reality show on a couple who have only been dating for a few months isn’t an efficient way to future proof your programme schedule.
Parallel to this burgeoning TV career, Maura still has bills to pay and personal appearances are an easy way to secure that. Since wrapping the show, she has joined a number of her co-stars in the illustrious heights of making 90-minute appearances at underage discos during Leaving Cert results season.
Most recently, she was the guest of honour at the Palace Nightclub in Navan, Co Meath. Her fee, expected to be in the region of €10,000, was likely deemed an acceptable cost for the venue for the sure-thing of her pictures landing in newspapers and on websites in the UK and Ireland, like this one.
It was a nod to the traditional photocalls of Celtic Tiger yore as Maura didn’t post any activity to her social media and instead, pictures were issued to newsdesks by a press photographer.
With more than two million followers on Instagram, it’s likely that her fee is out of reach for any business that doesn’t have a seven figure marketing budget.
In the same week, she appeared on the cover of Grazia magazine, a coup for both parties. Grazia rarely features curated photoshoots on its cover, preferring paid-for pictures and an accompanying celebrity story; but a pared back shoot with Maura Higgins, the unlikely poster woman of feminism in 2019, made headlines around the UK and Ireland.
In the piece, she spoke about being “misjudged” her entire life and confirming the narrative of her sex-positive, women-first brand of feminism and endearing her further to the public.
Her co-star Molly Mae Hague, who was a finalist with boyfriend Tommy Fury, also made an unlikely stop at an Under 18s event at Blazers Nightclub in Longford last weekend; further proof that Longford is officially on the map.
Similarly, she didn’t share any social activity, instead sharing one post of her boarding a private jet - tagging the company providing the service - with a monogram set of Louis Vuitton luggage in tow; neglecting to mention she was en route to Knock Airport to pose with a bunch of 17 year olds celebrating before school starts again.
She is primed for a collaboration with fast fashion brands like Boohoo.com and Nasty Gal, whose entire business model is built on its popularity with influencers like her. Kaz Crossley, Wes Nelson and Josh Denzel all built edits with the former, pocketing a tidy sum for their troubles.
Greg, possibly the most normal person to ever agree to be on a reality tv show, has announced it’s back to business as usual for hilm; albeit with an elevated profile, one million Instagram followers and a £25,000 nest egg.
He graduated with a degree in law from the University of Limerick last year and is continuing his plans to pursue a career in the field, buckling down for his FE1s in October, weeks before he flies to Dubai for the World Rugby Sevens World Series.
“I have exams booked for October, the FE1s, so the plan is to still go for them. I’m not going to forget about my life just because I won Love Island,” he told the Irish Daily Star on Thursday.
“I have been offered a couple of TV shows but I want to get home, home to Ireland and back into my rugby. I miss it. This is my true love.”
Aside from his huge homecoming at Shannon Airport, a deal with a local car dealership for a free Land Rover and signing with a new sports agent in Dublin, Greg has put the focus back on his first love - rugby.
He and Amber are still together and she is adopting a similarly head-on-straight approach, returning to work at the beauty salon she co-owns with her aunt in Newcastle, England.
She has made the standard appearances on Loose Women, but is shrewdly using her newfound fame to bolster her personal, established ambitions.
"I'll definitely keep working with my auntie. We'll still have the salon, and I'll build from that - the goal would be opening a few more salons together," she told Closer magazine.
"That was the idea before Love Island, so hopefully we'll see what we can do."
It’s telling that the two winners of the show have the most practical plans in place in comparison to the other finalists.
In the past, Love Island was a guaranteed track to TV fame, but it was usually short-lived. Just ask last year’s winners Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, who split up before the reality show about their relationship aired: Dani is collaborating with beauty and fashion brands, while Jack is on the new season of Celebs Go Dating.
Curtis Pritchard, who previously appeared as a dancer on RTE’s Dancing With The Stars, has unsurprisingly said goodbye to his time in the background and stepped to the fore with appearances lined up on high profile shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and The Greatest Dancer, hosted by Cheryl.
Lucie Donlan landed a haircare brand ambassador contract worth an estimated €210,000 and others like Molly Mae and India are ripe for affordable clothing collections
Amy Hart, who had sought therapy during her time in the villa and made one of the most dramatic - and well-received - exits in the show’s history, has been hitting the talk show circuit in the UK and is a likely candidate for a regular appearance on a panel like Loose Women. After 11 years working as an air hostess for British Airways, she announced she’s too famous to effectively do her job and will instead be focusing all her energies on showbiz.
"I can't work there anymore because I am there to be in charge of the safety of the whole plane, and right now that just wouldn't be attainable," Amy said in her Instagram Stories.
"People would be – and this isn't me sounding like 'Oh, everyone thinks I'm amazing', because it's not that at all – people would be filming. People filmed us when I hadn't been on a TV show that millions of people have watched.”
Life after Love Island isn’t all Instagram spon and nightclub appearances, but for the truly savvy, it's not a bad place to start.