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Ariana Madix on Intense ‘Love Island USA’ Season 6 and Host Future

Ariana Madix on Intense ‘Love Island USA’ Season 6 and Host Future

[This story includes spoilers from season six of Love Island USA.]

Season six of Peacock‘s Love Island USA could arguably be one of the most dramatic thus far — and it’s only 15 episodes in.

Not only is the long-running dating competition series finding new eyes this year, but it also has a new host with Vanderpump Rules break out star Ariana Madix.

Her hosting turn on the hit dating show comes as her status with her other reality show — the hit Bravo series that has followed her and her Hollywood friends for just over a decade — remains fluid. Following the “Scandoval” scandal that centered on her and ex Tom Sandoval for the past two seasons, Vanderpump Rules is taking a hiatus. Madix and the ensemble are taking the summer off of filming in order to regroup. Ultimately, it will be up to Madix whether she wants to return.

With the break, the sandwich shop co-owner (who recently opened Something About Her) is now bringing her signature looks and facial reactions to a different setting: the Love Island villa.

“I knew going in that I just wanted to be me, times 10, and just bring whatever makes me me to the role,” Madix tells The Hollywood Reporter of hosting the American spinoff of the popular British dating series. 

While season six, which launched June 11 and airs for six weeks, has already seen its share of heartbreak and tears — notably between Leah Kateb, Rob Rausch and Andrea Carmona’s love triangle — it’s likely only the beginning. Especially since there are plenty of bombshells, challenges and surprises still to come, including the iconic Casa Amor.

“If I’m not watching it and I’m not in the villa, I’m on the Instagram or the TikTok account, commenting my opinions with twitchy thumbs because I have so many thoughts all the time,” adds the host, who has also been a long-time fan of the Love Island franchise.

Below, Madix gives her thoughts on that recent suspenseful double elimination with Carmona and Hakeem White, talks about navigating heated moments in the villa, shares the advice she wishes she could give to the Islanders and teases what’s still ahead this season.

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You went from “VIP guest” in season five and Love Island Games to hosting season six. What was it like getting that call? 

It was amazing! I was actually backstage at [Broadway show] Chicago [where she plays Roxie Hart] and I had to sneak away into the stage manager’s office to take a call. Getting that news was so exciting. I was backstage, living this lifelong dream of being on Broadway. And then to get that call and go into another total dream was amazing. A pinch me moment. 

Did you feel any pressure taking over the reins from previous host Sarah Hyland, and did you get any advice? 

I didn’t get any advice. But what’s really cool and crazy is that because she’s doing [Little Shop of Horrors on Broadway], we almost just like did a swapsies (Laughs). And I’m actually kind of bummed, because I would love to see her in Little Shop. But you know, as a longtime fan of Love Island across the board,watching Sarah kill it as host, along with Arielle Vandenberg, Sophie Monk, Caroline Flack — the best to ever do it, Maya Jama, who’s like the hottest person alive — I know that every host brings their own flavor to the job and to the show. And so I knew going in that I just wanted to be me because that alleviates any sort of pressure to try to do what anyone else is doing, and creates something that can’t be recreated because you’re just being yourself. But I think the excitement on my end is palpable because it is my favorite show. 

You’ve had some memorable reactions to the drama so far. What is going through your head witnessing the heated moments live in the villa? 

A lot is going through my mind. Sometimes I wanna jump in there, but I can’t because I’m the host. I’m not an Islander. I can’t jump in and start getting into it with them, but sometimes I do have things I wish that I could say straight to their face. It’s fascinating. As a viewer and a fan, I love those moments. But as someone who is getting to know these Islanders on a personal level, it makes me feel sad or angry or happy for them, depending on what’s going on. It’s a huge mix of emotions and then playing this weird thing of, “well, I’m a fan of the show and if I was watching the show, I would love watching this, but I hate watching them go through it in real life.” So, it’s an interesting feeling. 

How do you navigate delivering bad news? Do you get nervous in those moments? 

I do feel bad knowing when I have to come in with bad news, or knowing that I’m gonna be sending someone home that night. That is tough. Sometimes when I walk in, someone might be like, “Oh my God, hi!” And then they can tell by my face that it’s like, “Oh, it’s not gonna be a fun night.” And I feel bad sometimes that I can’t just gossip with them, or that I have to let them down that night or deliver some bad news. I hate having to do that, but it’s also why I love watching the show. 

Do you get to talk with the Islanders more than what the viewers see on camera? 

That’s pretty much the time that I have with them. Filming does go on longer than what could ever be aired on TV, just for time’s sake. And so there are some things that, of course, go on a little bit longer. [For example,] the other night I was talking to them slightly longer during all of the chaos that was that double elimination [when Andrea Carmona and Hakeem White got dumped from the villa]. Night one, I did sit and talk with the girls for a lot longer than you see. And when the guys came, we all chatted a lot longer than what would ever be able to make it to air. But for the most part, what you’re seeing is how much I get to talk to them, unless it’s just, “Hi” or, “You look cute,” stuff like that. 

And sometimes I can’t tell if I’m successfully communicating with my eyes. I’m trying to tell them that I love them through my eyes. But I don’t know if it really translates. (Laughs) They’re probably like, “Why is she staring at me?”

The double elimination with Andrea Carmona and Hakeem White could potentially be considered one of the most dramatic in Love Island USA history — do you think the Islanders made the right decisions?

Yeah, I feel as though no matter who the girls chose — and I feel so bad because none of us are talking about who the boys chose. I think even Hakeem said at one point that it made the most sense to choose him and I felt bad. He was standing right there while everyone was freaking out about Andrea going home. But I think if you really look at the three girls that the women had to choose from to send home, you have JaNa [Craig] who’s an OG Islander, who has continuously put herself out there and has been given the short end of the stick and has really been making effort. With a little bit more time, JaNa might be able to find the right person. Then you have Nicole [Jacky] who was coupled up with Kendall [Washington], who seemed to have a strong connection with him, but is just starting to get to know Miguel [Harichi]. Then you have Andrea, who has only been there about three or four days, the same time as Nicole, but who is very locked down with Rob. And that’s it. And I also think in her being so locked down with Rob, she wasn’t really making that strong of a connection with the other women.

And while this is Love Island and not Friendship Island, I think that something on every single season — because these types of eliminations do happen on every season — it is important you have the person you are coupled up with, or want to be coupled up with, but that you also have the other Islanders. It is important to be making friendship connections as well. And so I think when the girls were weighing all of their options, they chose who they thought made the most sense to them. 

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The reaction to it by Aaron [Evans] especially — it made for wonderful television — but it was way over the top. And I’m really glad that Liv [Walker] stood her ground. I think Liv is an incredible castmember and I love watching her develop and get to know all the Islanders. She really just does not back down, and I love that about her. I’m glad she was there in that moment to put him in his place. And Aaron was only upset because he thought Rob was going to leave. 

I forget if it was Liv or JaNa who said this, but if you are closed off, that means every bombshell that comes in for the rest of the season is just going to sit there for a couple of days and then get sent home, because no one’s gonna get to know them. And I understand, yes, they are a strong couple but, you can leave. Rob can leave. I knew he wouldn’t. 

Do you have a favorite couple you’re rooting for? 

I love all of them and I think I just want them all to find the person best for them, and be able to have a relationship outside of the villa this year. I love them all for different reasons. So it’s hard to say a favorite, but Serena [Page] and Kordell [Beckham] have the cutest banter. I love when they’re having fun and joking with each other, and I don’t know if it’s going to blossom into something super romantic or not. I would love that for them. But also if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. But I do think they’re both so cute. And Kaylor [Martin] and Aaron are also very cute together. I love their little handshake. I think they are the strongest couple in the villa right now, but obviously we do have Casa Amor at some point so anything can change. I really want JaNa to find her person and I want really want someone for Kendall really bad. But then again, I want someone for everyone, that would just be the perfect world. 

Having been through your own ups and downs in past relationships, what advice would you give to the Islanders?

I would tell them, I think that sometimes someone seems really great on paper, my type on paper as they say, and I think that sometimes the grass is greener when a bombshell comes in. I know we don’t have a ton of time on Love Island for anybody to really be thinking, taking their time to make decisions. But if they just would talk about it with their friends a little bit more and try to see what’s good in the person that they were with. I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes you can’t tell chemistry until you actually are with someone in the room, so it’s hard to say. I really liked Nicole and Kendall together. And so when Miguel came in, I was sad she was trying to get to know Miguel. And so I wish that Nicole would just give it a second. But it’s hard. They don’t know what time it is, they don’t know what day it is, they don’t know what’s going on. I can only imagine the whirlwind of emotions they’re all feeling at all times. And I’m really glad the girls seem to all be there for each other, because I think that that’s been so great to watch this season. It’s been so important in them being able to move through this crazy experience. 

Can you tease any games or challenges planned for the Islanders in the upcoming episodes? 

I don’t even know. I have no idea. I do know Casa Amor is gonna be coming up somewhat soon, because we are getting about midway. And I think that is going to have some very exciting details that I cannot spill. 

Do you hope to host more seasons of Love Island USA, and if so, have you been asked to return for season seven? 

I don’t know anything yet, but I hope to host this show until I die… until it never airs ever again or something. (Laughs)

Love Island USA season six is currently streaming on Peacock.

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