Wisconsin contestant on ‘Love Island USA’ shares the surprises of being on reality TV

Madison native Allie Ryan appears on latest season of reality dating show on Peacock

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Contestants for Love Island USA line up and face the host, who is speaking
From left to right, Sarah Hyland, Najah Fleary, Ashley Sims, Taylor Smith, Allie Ryan, Hannah Ortega, Dasja Johnson, Taylor Chmelka, Johnnie Garcia appear on season 5 of “Love Island USA.” Photo courtesy Sara Mally/PEACOCK

Allie Ryan was a fan of reality TV long before she appeared on “Love Island USA.”

She thought being around cameras would be weird. She didn’t understand how contestants could form such close relationships in a matter of days.

Now, she gets it.

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“We always say one day in the villa feels like five on the outside,” she said. “It truly does.”

Ryan is a nursing student and Madison native. During a recent appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show,” Ryan said it took two hours to find her best friend on “Love Island USA,” which came out this summer.

Ryan is the latest Wisconsinite making reality TV. Ann Rosenquist, a Bayfield County farmer, recently joined WPR’s “Central Time” to break down her time on the HISTORY Channel’s survival competition “Alone.”

The fifth season of the American “Love Island” took place at a villa in Fiji and is available for viewing on Peacock. More than 30 people joined this season. Islanders couple up in hopes of finding a relationship before the public votes them out. Ryan arrived at the villa about halfway through the season.

On “The Morning Show,” Ryan also discussed being surrounded by cameras, the amount of scripted material and adjusting to life since the show ended.

The following was edited for clarity and brevity. It contains show spoilers.

Kate Archer Kent: What are the relationships like after you leave “Love Island”?

Allie Ryan: They’re honestly incredible. You become part of such a little family. It’s so cool. Now, you have friends all over and you’re keeping up with their lives, and now you’re realizing their real life outside of being in the show. It’s super cool, though.

KAK: How did your time on the show change your personal life? What’s new about you?

AR: I feel like everyone has a goal of dating to get married, have kids (and) do the classic thing. But once you go on a show like that, you really … look inward. It’s not all about that. It’s finding the right person. And if the right person isn’t there for you, don’t do it.

Contestants for Love Island USA all sit together in a half circle
From left to right, Johnnie Garcia, Jonah Allman, Ashley Sims, Keenan Anunay, Taylor Smith, Kenzo Nudo, Taylor Chmelka, Marco Donatelli, Dasja Johnson, Mike Starks, Allie Ryan, Carsten Bergersen, Najah Fleary and Leonardo Dionicio appear on Love Island USA. Photo courtesy Sara Mally/PEACOCK

KAK: Why did you want to do this?

AR: I’ve been a reality TV fan since I can remember. I was always super infatuated with it. Once the time came when I was single and I was like, ‘You know what? Now’s the time to do it if I want to try.’ I sent an application. Six months later, here I was.

KAK: When you were accepted, what went through your mind? What did that feel like?

AR: I was like, ‘Oh, wait. This is actually happening.’ It was all fun and games during the interview process, and you just in the back of your mind (think), ‘This might not happen.’ You don’t want to set your mind completely to it, but you ought to be open to it. And then it happened, and I was like, ‘Oh, wait. OK. It’s real now.’

KAK: Could you see cameras everywhere? Did you stop realizing they were there?

AR: I was nervous that I was not going to be able to be myself, that I was going to be hypersensitive of the cameras. But I swear, 10 minutes into going into the villa, you don’t even remember. You don’t even care. You don’t really notice them. And if you do, you don’t even bat an eye about it.

Contestants for Love Island USA walk and wave
From left to right, Najah Fleary, Ashley Sims, Allie Ryan, Taylor Chmelka, Taylor Smith, Dasja Johnson appear on “Love Island USA.” Photo courtesy Sara Mally/PEACOCK

KAK: There’s a belief that relationships and friendships can form really fast between cast mates in the villa. Was that your experience?

AR: 100 percent. When I watched these shows for years, I would sit there and I would say, ‘Oh wow, that’s dramatic. Oh, they love each other and it’s been three days, or they’re best friends and it’s been a day? Yeah, whatever.’ The second I went in there, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I get it now. I completely get it.’ I was best friends with Taylor S., who ended up with Bergie, after about 2 hours because we rode in the van together to the villa. I was like, ‘Yep, she’s my best friend.’

There’s just something about being completely out of your element, away from home, going on (a) crazy, scary and exciting experience that you really clamp on to the people around you. We always say one day in the villa feels like five on the outside. It truly does.

READ MORE: Wisconsin survivalist lasts 19 days on ‘Alone’ TV competition

KAK: How much of the tension and the exchanges between contestants are set up or perhaps boosted by producers?

AR: I would say none of them are boosted or scripted or pushed or anything like that … I wouldn’t say boosted by producers or anything like that, but you’re just coming into a situation not knowing what’s going on. It can be a lot. You don’t really know what you’re doing because you’re thrown into this experience. I would say things could be altered because you’re just trying to settle into a situation and sometimes people don’t act maybe how they would act in the outside world because we’re just put in a tiny little bubble. But as far as production pushing things or scripting or anything like that, absolutely not. It’s all real.

KAK: How are you adjusting to life after your time on “Love Island”?

AR: It’s crazy. I was only gone for a couple of months, but it seemed like years. So, coming back, I’m learning all these new things (and) keeping up with everyone’s life. It’s crazy, but it’s so good.

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