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Q&A: Elizabeth Weber describes her path from CMU to winning Love Island USA


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 Two years ago, Birmingham alumna Elizabeth Weber was studying for her midterms at Central Michigan University, on her way to a Bachelor's degree in Advertising. Today, the 24-year-old is the winner of the first season of the reality dating show, "Love Island USA." 

The show is based on "Love Island," the British reality dating show where young single people live in a luxury villa for eight weeks on a tropical island in search of love. "Love Island USA" aired every weeknight in July and August on CBS, with millions of dedicated viewers watching and voting for their favorite couple. 

The winning couple this year was Weber and her boyfriend Zac Mirabelli, whom she met on the show. The couple was awarded $100,000. 

What was the application process like for Love Island? 

I actually didn’t apply. I was reached out to on Instagram by one of their talent managers. He sent me a message saying, “I think you would be perfect for this show.” At first I actually replied saying, “I don’t think it’s a good fit for me,” He was like, “No, hear me out, let me fly you out to LA and let’s have a conversation.” So, I went and I loved all the people that I met. I was worried because watching the Bachelor, it’s so heavy and romantic, and this is more comedy, light-hearted. I didn’t feel like I had to marry someone on the show. 

What was it like to be so isolated in the villa? 

I was in Fiji for 54 days. I did a 2-week sequester before going on the show without my phone. You fly to LA and then to Fiji with a chaperone/handler. They stay in the room next to you in a resort for 2 weeks before going into the villa. So you can adjust without your phone, family, or friends. I spent that time reading books, painting, going to the beach, and visiting a waterpark. 

You know nothing about the outside world (in the villa.) It was very weird. You don’t know the time or the day. I knew the day, because I would look at my allergy medicine chart, but we didn’t know what time it was. It was weird but also kind of nice. It felt like a detox of the outside world. I got so used to not having a phone. It felt weird to get it back. I was totally fine without my phone. I didn’t miss it at all. 

What was a typical day like? 

You wake up by an announcer over the overhead system. They would do it really funny every morning. They’d tell us the weather or crack a joke. So we’d wake up, and we’d go make breakfast. They never showed this, but I worked out every single day. Then, we would just hang around in our swimsuits and wait for a text to come through to see if there was a game today, or is there a recoupling, is someone going on a date, etc. Or sometimes you’d wake up and there would be new people in the villa. 

Being on camera 24/7, did you have to censor yourself? 

Honestly, no. I was pretty much myself. But, you kind of forget you’re being filmed after day two. I felt like I was editing myself the first day, thinking “Oh my gosh. Are they going to use what I just said? Did I word that awkwardly? Then, by day two, I forgot the cameras were there. I didn’t even believe I was on TV until I got home and saw it. 

We also didn’t think anyone was watching. We thought it was a flop and nobody would watch. So, when we got out, we were like “oh wow.” We didn’t expect that reaction when we left. 

What is it like to have a relationship that is so heavily in the public eye? 

It’s funny because while we were in the villa, we didn’t really understand that people were watching, so it didn’t really affect us then. When we got home, getting off the plane in LAX, we had people running up to us screaming, and we were like “Oh my goodness. This is hilarious. I look like a hairball, I can’t believe people are asking to get pictures with me.” We definitely were in shock at first. It was hard. Everywhere we went, people would see us and freak out. 

How often are you able to see Zac now? 

I’m in Michigan and he’s in Chicago. I’m actually going to see him tomorrow for a week. His mom and his sister actually came and spent a weekend here with him at our house. Our families are really close. 

We are so lucky. Everything just feels like it worked out. We see each other a lot. We just went to New York for Fashion Week together, we’re going to LA in October for the reunion, and we’re both trying to move out to LA as soon as possible. When that happens, we’ll be living in the same city, but not living together. 

While you were a student at CMU, where on campus did you spend the most time?

Probably the Student Activity Center. I was always there working out. Everyone made fun of me for going there a lot. 

I also loved Dog Central. I went there for dinner sometimes. People would say “Yeah, that’s good going out food!” and I would say, “No, I just like Dog Central. For dinner.”

What advice do you have for Central students who are about to graduate? 

Buckle down and focus. Start working on job applications way ahead of time. I feel like I started looking in May-ish, and I wish I had been looking since March. I wish I had started reaching out sooner, even making a list of places I wanted to apply to. Really, utilizing the network that I made throughout college was what helped me the most. It was my network that helped me to get interviews, and eventually a job. Remember everyone you met throughout your time. They are there to help you. 

If you could talk to yourself 3 years ago, would she believe you would win a reality TV show? 

I don’t know if I would believe it! I would imagine myself doing something like this, but winning!? No way. I would’ve thought I would be the first person to go home. I almost didn’t pack much clothing because I thought I would leave pretty quickly.
 

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