Love Island’s Tina Provis Spoke Up About Racism On Reality TV And The Response Was Unexpected

Love Island Australia reality TV star Tina Provis

Tina Provis from Love Island has opened up on Instagram about the complicated feelings of growing up outside of the white norm in Australia. The reality TV star, who walked away from the villa victorious back in 2021, said she was hit by an intrusive thought during filming: “I am not as good as someone who is white.”

For a bunch of people, this might seem a bit out of the blue. But it’s a thought that flickers through your head as a person of colour – whether it’s going for jobs, turning up to a blind date, or even scanning a room at an event and realising you’re the odd one out. 

There’s also an instant connection with other POC – which Provis describes – because you’ve gone through so many shared experiences, before even meeting. 

“It was around day three I had a conversation with another POC islander, where we questioned whether our race made us less desirable in the villa. But nothing is really just ‘in the villa’,”  she wrote. 

“Everyone who steps into the Love Island villa has a degree of anticipation about how they will be perceived and fears of rejection. But I can almost guarantee that every person of colour that walks through those villa doors is wondering if their race will be the reason they leave alone.”

She said this fear isn’t necessarily true, but called it “fucking sad” that it’s even a thought. 

Tina Provis on Love Island Australia

Tina Provis competed on three seasons of Love Island. (Image: Instagram @tinaprovis)

The response from her followers has been mostly positive, which is refreshing. 

“I think it just rang true for a lot of people, and I think that’s what’s so great to see,” she tells PEDESTRIAN.TV. 

“I do feel like [discussions about race are] sometimes something people don’t want to touch… [but] the response I had was overwhelming,” she says. 

“I think being able to have a platform and have those conversations with people who feel the same is very liberating for me, but then obviously it’s great for people on the other end who are maybe just facing those feelings for the first time.”

She shared this statement on Instagram recently. (Image: Instagram @tinaprovis)

Of course, there are the odd vitriolic commenters who slam Provis for bringing race into a conversation about reality TV. On one hand, I get it. Reality TV is supposed to be an escape, and we all know it’s not actually real. But it’s also a reflection of society, and what’s the point of coming out of Love Island with a platform and not using it?

“The fact that I am having these internalised feelings that maybe I’m not as good because I’m not white, plays into absolutely everything that I’m saying… whether it’s right or wrong, [it] doesn’t matter. It’s a feeling that I’m experiencing,” Provis explains. 

She’s been “piecing together” lots of experiences she had when growing up, and realised there were quite a few *uncomfortable* moments. It all draws back to these internalised thoughts of racism, which has affected her relationships both socially and romantically. 

Tina Provis on Love Island

“We questioned whether our race made us less desirable in the villa.” (Image: Nine)

So why is this such a thing? As a Chinese woman, I can absolutely connect with Provis on this, and it’s likely due to the fact that growing up without representation on screen alters your perception of what’s ‘normal’. 

For me, I pretty much had Mulan… and that was it. Then, there’s the slurs yelled at you by people in cars that drive past, being teased at uni for *shock horror* having a different type of nose – can you blame us for being a bit apprehensive? 

Even micro-aggressions at work or being treated like a diversity hire play on your mind. I had a previous workplace where we were constantly encouraged to use POC in a performative way – yet when complaints about racism were made, workers were punished. 

Provis thinks that once we’re past the “box tick”, and start seeing more POCs in positions of power, that’s when we’ll finally begin to see some change in the Australian media. 

“I know there’s a lot of other people in the media who feel the same way [as me] and don’t feel like they can really speak about it. I’d love to know how we can open up those discussions, and I want to be able to help those people [speak out],” she says. 

Feature Image: Instagram @tinaprovis

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