Love Island star Priscilla Anyabu has revealed the biggest concern she had about appearing on the hit show, which was that she would be portrayed as the ‘angry black girl’ stereotype. 

The 24-year-old model starred in the winter series of ITV2’s dating show earlier this year and met former policeman Mike Boateng, who she is still dating making them one of just a few couples still together. 

But before entering the villa as a Casa Amor bombshell, Priscilla was fully aware that she would be one of only a few black girls to join this year’s series and the narrative that can often come from it with reality shows. 

Speaking to exclusively, Priscilla explained: ‘The narrative, especially as a female in entertainment, is just like the angry black girl never wins, you always get portrayed in a bad light. 

‘I was always scared of what I would say, how I would say it because I want to get my opinion out, but I don’t want to become the angry black girl. I don’t want to become the girl that’s complaining or the girl that’s playing victim and that’s the only thing that got me that.’ 

Over the past two weeks, Priscilla has been particularly vocal about the issues regarding racism in the UK and also joined the Black Lives Matter protests in London following the tragic death of George Floyd in the US. 

Priscilla continued of her Love Island stint: ‘It wasn’t [a case of] I need to behave a certain way, but it was the biggest thing in my head. – how am I going to be portrayed? At the end of the day, I wanted to be my authentic and genuine self so I had to be true to myself. 

‘I always think that I carry myself with elegance and grace. That’s what I tried to do with everything, but it was the thought of, how are people going to take me, how are the males going to welcome me?’ 

The ‘angry black girl’ stereotype has become prominent with reality shows, particularly in the US, where black women’s storylines are often about fights, arguments and other negative connotations. 

Priscilla explained: ‘I for one could have easily fallen into the angry black girl category because if you look at my actual edits, you’ll see it’s me having discussions with Mike where I have to pull him up on certain situations that I wasn’t happy with. 

‘So if I went all guns blazing I would have definitely come across as the angry black girl, but that’s just not the way I portray myself. It’s not the way I handle situations because I think communication is key, it’s 100%. So if I’m screaming at you, how are you going to be able to take in my message? So I always tried to just remain calm, analyse and then deliver. 

‘But as I said I could have easily come out here mad like, “Why are you doing this, that etc?” and then that’s it. The world thinks I’m now the angry black girl, and that was probably all the air time that I pretty much did get.’ 

However, Priscilla actually appreciates the way her storylines with Mike were depicted as it showed other black girls that they ‘can be strong and deliver a message without having to fit the stereotype’. 

During her time on the show – and after – Priscilla was often criticised for her appearance possibly more than the other female contestants, particularly with comments about her choice of wigs. 

But it was something she was prepared for as the model admitted: ‘I knew the discussion on my hair was inevitable. It was going to happen. That’s why I had to make sure my hair was on point. 

‘I knew my appearance had to be top notch so I don’t give people a reason to critique in a bad way. I just wanted to take charge of whatever was going out.’ 

Priscilla and Mike’s romance was hailed by the black community for showing ‘black love’, which is rarely seen on primetime TV. 

It’s a mould which Priscilla was more than happy to fill, as she explained: ‘I don’t mind being coined as the black love couple because it’s giving more awareness and acceptance. 

‘In mainstream media you pretty much don’t see it and I don’t think in love Island we’ve had a full black couple or black couple that is still going strong. It has to be shown and it just shows us that it does exist because, as I said, we had all this black shaming of black girls. So with our black love, I feel like it’s just generally showing appreciation of us coming together.’ 

Priscilla and Mike have used their social media platforms to support the black community during the BLM protests, attending demonstrations and sharing other people’s experiences with racism. 

For Priscilla, this has included occasions where she turned up to a shoot and they didn’t have her foundation colour, or blatantly being snubbed from casting selections in favour of white or light-skinned women. 

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And while she’s dealt with her own share of racism and prejudice, Priscilla realises black men need support too. 

‘The thing is, black men have always been depicted as strong, like they are the pillar of the households and usually, it’s said men are the head and women are the neck, so they feel as if they have to remain strong all the time,’ she explained. 

‘And I tell Mike, it’s OK to break down, have your off days and release your emotions, it doesn’t make you any less of a man. It’s like they have this weight on their shoulders crushing down on them. They’re literally trying to stay alive and live. 

‘It’s heartbreaking to watch.’ 

Priscilla carries out charitable work within the black community, including the #TakeCare50 initiative, which delivers care packages to NHS workers fighting on the coronavirus frontlines – many of whom are women of colour. 

‘In all of this chaos, destruction and sad times, I want to give back positivity. I want to put back out the love and make people feel warm and fuzzy again.’ 

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