Madelyn 'Juicy' Russinyak On Normal Life Vs. Temptation Island And More - Exclusive Interview

We're going to set the scene — you're in a committed relationship, you're looking to take the next step, but there's a hint of doubt that the person you love might not be the one for you. How do you find out for sure? Sign up for a reality dating show and take the opportunity to mingle with some gorgeous singles in pursuit of relationship confirmation (or bust). If it sounds like a crazy, vulnerable, and unique environment, it's because it is, and it's the premise of USA's "Temptation Island," currently airing its fourth season. 

We had to learn more about this standalone dating show and all the details about its format, the contestants' experiences, and more, so we sat down with Madelyn "Juicy" Rusinyak, a hopeful single who is gracing the screen. What was her experience like on the show, what does her love life look like now, what is next for her? We had so many questions, and luckily for us (and you), Rusinyak had a ton of answers.

Rusinyak came to the "Temptation Island" screen at the suggestion of — wait for it — her parents! Her mom thought she'd be a great addition to the show, and instead of staying in her small hometown in Georgia, the yoga teacher took the plunge. Unlike many of us in early dating circles who try to play it on the down low and avoid the ever-pervasive double text, Rusinyak made it a priority to simply be herself and pursue relationships (and have fun) as she saw fit. 

We wanted to get a better sense of who Rusinyak is both in front of and behind the camera, and in an exclusive sit down interview, we picked her brain about her experience on the show, her life today, and what's next for the breakout star.

Madelyn reveals why she chose to compete on Temptation Island

Before we get into your personal life and what brought you out of your shell on the show, I'd love to talk to you about what initially attracted you to "Temptation Island" and how it was set apart to you for of other reality dating shows?

I hadn't seen the show and my mom and dad liked to watch it. My mom, she was like, "You'd be so great on this show. I could totally see you being so awesome." I would watch the show, and I was like, "I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing, but ... okay, you know what? I'll try it." I'm very outgoing, very confident. I feel like [with] this show, you have to be outgoing and confident.

Definitely. What was that process about coming to the show and then seeing it for all the nuts and bolts? The production, on camera — what was that transition like from viewer to in front of the camera?

It was honestly crazy. I didn't realize how much time and effort went into everything. I thought people went there and partied, but I didn't realize there were interviews. You had to do confessionals. As I watched reality shows, I was like, "God, these people are so dramatic." Then, when I was on the show, I was like, "God, I'm being so dramatic." You don't realize what it's like until you're there. I was thinking back [to myself], "I feel bad for judging all these people because I'm doing the exact same thing."

Why "Temptation Island?" Why not "The Bachelor" or "Paradise" or "Love Is Blind" or anything like that? What was it about this show for you?

Honestly, I can't even watch "The Bachelor" because it's very ... I don't want to say religious, but I feel it's a very cookie-cutter type thing. I feel like "Temptation Island" is way more fun and people can really be themselves there.

That's a newer trend in reality shows or reality dating shows, so I want to talk to you a little bit about the show's environment. You're a single lady. You're among all these couples. What was your initial reaction to that very unique dynamic?

I went in very confident. Before I met all the other women and the [women in couples] and then after I saw everyone at the singles reveal, I had to have a conversation with myself. I was like, "You're awesome. You're great. You're unique," because I looked around and there were so many beautiful people there. I was like, "How could I compete?" I had to literally give myself a pep talk. I was like, "You're the only you. You're awesome. Beautiful. You got it."

How did that transgress throughout your time on the show? Did you have to keep reinforcing that to yourself?

All the time, because it's hard to get one on one time with ... There's only four guys. There's 12 girls. I kept telling myself, "It's okay. Even if today wasn't a great day for you and a guy that I liked, it's okay." There's more days and everyone else was struggling for time with the guys too, so it wasn't just me.

Madelyn discusses her self-awareness during filming

What were some of the challenges you faced early on in your "Temptation Island" experience?

It was very hard to get a word in, sometimes, because it was a lot of [supporting] characters trying to be a main character ... Especially at the mixer when we first met, it was very hard to get a word in. It was hard to really get to know these guys and let them get to know you, because it was like, "Okay, well they're also trying to get to know 11 other girls." It was tough.

[You] definitely [have] to put your confident foot forward, which isn't an easy thing to do all the time.

And not be uncomfortable to be like, "Hey, could I grab you for a conversation?" I never thought I would say that, but I caught myself saying that, like, "Hey, let's go talk. Let's go talk somewhere else."

"Can I steal you for a second?" That's the catch line?

I was like, "I did not just say that."

What was that self-awareness like? It seems you were having this, I don't want to say out of body [experience], but [needed to be] very aware of what you were doing.

Yeah. The whole thing was crazy. Me and my friend, Paige, we kept saying we're drinking the Kool-Aid, because like I said, I would watch TV and be like, "God, that's so dramatic," and then I was on the show and I was like, "I'm feeling all these things I've never felt before, and I don't want to look like a psycho on camera, but I also want to look like myself. I don't want to look fake. I'd rather look psycho and desperate than be fake."

You came to "Temptation Island" from your parents, which is so funny. Did you ever anticipate ever being on a reality dating show? Was that something that you've ever thought was a viable or realistic thing that would be in your future?

Yes and no. I've always wanted to do something like that and be in a dating pool with people from different states, because Georgia sucks for the most part. Very country. I definitely had imagined myself doing it, but actually doing it, I kept having to be like, "This is real life. This is not fake." Being in Maui, looking around every morning, [I said], "Wow, I can't believe I get to wake up to this." It was crazy.

What did Madelyn's love life look like before the show?

Before you came to the show, I want to talk to you a little bit about your personal life and life off camera. What was the dating scene like for you?

I'm from a small town in Georgia. I grew up in a town that has one red light. Dating before this was extremely hard. It was a bunch of country guys who weren't open-minded. Frat boys, mostly, because I was in college for four years before the show. I really always stayed in the southern part of Georgia, so you can imagine how that goes. Not good.

All of a sudden, you're exposed to people from so many different areas and walks of life. Tell me a little bit about what stepping into that new world was like.

It was honestly awesome and it gave me a lot of hope. I was like, "Wow, there are guys out there who are open-minded and who like to do things other than go fishing and ride motorcycles and four wheelers and stuff. Wow, this is great."

I know that [you're a] yoga instructor [and] environmentalist. You have all these really mindful practices. What did you learn about yourself prior to the show, maybe on the show and how that came together?

I learned that I need alone time. It's hard for me to live with 11 other girls and not ever get alone time. I also learned that I need my sleep. It was really hard to sleep there. I remember leaving. I slept. I came home and I slept for three days straight. I was so tired. Then, I was like, "I've got to get back into yoga", because I like to have a routine. Normally, before the island [and] after the island, I'll drink on the weekends, maybe. Sometimes every other weekend. Living there, we were drinking every single day. I was like, "I've got to take care of my body." It was rough, honestly.

That must have such a structure shock, honestly.

Yeah, because I came from teaching yoga classes six times a week, [and] being a server. Doing yoga, I would normally go to the 5:45 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. class. I went from that to not going to bed till 3:00 a.m. sometimes.

With that in mind, what did a day of filming or a day on set look like for you?

I would love to tell you one day that was a routine, but I couldn't, because every day we woke up and I was like, "What's going to happen today? Is there going to be a bonfire? Is there going to be an elimination? Are they picking dates?" My anxiety was on 10, always. Every time I saw Mark walk into that house, I was like, "Leave. You got to go. You can't bring good news."

All bets are off?

Literally. I'm like, "I'm getting sent home or someone's getting brought in."

I feel like my heart rate would be elevated the entire time.

Always. I was like, "We could never get comfortable."

Madelyn gives a hint about her love life today

I know you can't really give anything away, but in what ways has your love life been impacted by your time on the show? If you could reveal anything?

It was really hard for me to be empathic before. I was. I wasn't a cold-hearted person, but leaving, I became less cold-hearted, I'll say that.

That must have been an interesting path for you to experience.

For sure, and every single there had their own path, had their own journey, learned a lesson, which is hard to tell, because the show is centered around the couples. Every single there grew and I saw a change with everyone.

Well, it's a unique environment as well. I can only imagine how much, whether it be downtime or within different conversations, I'm sure you probably learned a lot about yourself throughout the process.

Right, and not having your phone. When we're all sitting in a group, normally we'd all be scrolling Twitter, Instagram, whatever. We had to sit around and actually talk to each other and I was like, "This is cool. We should do this more often."

What was that huge disconnect from technology like? Honestly, my phone lives with me.

Same. I was fine without the social media aspect. I was like, "This actually is good. I needed a break," but I felt FOMO. I felt left out because I knew all my friends were hanging out at home. I was like, "What are they doing now? Are they talking about me? Do they miss me? Who's texting me?"

That's so funny. I know. I feel like there's always that like, "I'm going to leave my phone for an hour and then I'll see who's messaged me when I get back," and it's no one, and I'm like, "Oh, okay."

Like, "Aw, darn it," and then [with] music, I was like, "Oh, I wonder what music came out," while I was away from my phone.

Yeah. It's that kind of disconnect. I feel like it's so ingrained in our daily lives.

I [missed] my mom the most. That was the hardest part, not being able to talk to my mom.

What was it like going through these changes and personal evolutions and not being to pick up the phone and call your mom?

It was good and bad. The social media break was awesome. I felt really confident. I wasn't like, "Oh I want that." I saved a lot of money. Scrolling through Instagram like, "I want that top. Oh, I need to do that pose. Can someone take pictures of me?" I wasn't worried about that. I was worried about having fun and being in the moment, getting to know everybody, so that was awesome, but I constantly worried [about] "What if my dogs are dead? What if my mom died?" I don't know why. That was a constant fear I had.

I get that, though. I'm also a worst case scenario.

"What if I get my phone back and no one's there?"

Everything's ended outside and we're stuck in Maui. That doesn't sound like the worst thing in the world, but –

Exactly, and everyone was like, "What's wrong with you?" I was like, "I don't know."

What are Madelyn's plans moving forward?

I'd love to talk to you about your life. Like you said, your small town Georgia. I'm sure you're very much hoping to really spread your wings, so what ambition do you have for this next season of life after the show?

I've moved to Atlanta, so it's way more diverse and awesome. I love it here. I've been hoping to get into modeling a little bit.

Cool. That would be great.

Yeah, print stuff. That would be ideal.

What is it about modeling and the fashion industry that really grabs your eye?

I'm going to be honest, I love attention. I love someone I care [about] being like, "Oh, you look great. Oh, that's good. Oh, perfect." I love that so much. I would love to model for yoga clothes or athletic wear, because I'm not super thin and I don't care. I love how the fashion industry has shifted towards women loving their own bodies and less Photoshop and stuff.

We've mentioned it briefly, but do you feel you really got to share your whole self on screen, or do you think that there were aspects of your personality that you didn't get to share with viewers as much?

Watching the first couple episodes, I'm sure you saw the whip cream, the lap dancing, whatever. I wasn't embarrassed about that. I was like, "I've probably done worse things." I had a conversation with Luke after that party and I did say to him, "There's more things to me than being able to drink and twerk and have fun and be a party girl." I'm a yoga teacher. I don't normally dream and drink this much. I like to take care of my body [and] my mental health. This isn't who I am. I've wanted to get that across to Luke [and] everybody there. I actually taught a yoga class. I'm not sure if that gets aired, but as of now, I'm looking like this huge party girl. That is me, but I also have other sides.

Madelyn reflects on body positivity amid her Temptation Island experience

You briefly mentioned when we were talking about going into modeling, that representation has definitely gotten more vast. What was that like on the show? What was that like for you to be a part of a more diverse crowd of people?

I struggled with it a little bit, because I had gained ten pounds on the show, because I wasn't doing my daily routine. I was still eating, so towards the end, I was like, "I don't really like the way my body looks right now." But I just kept telling myself, confidence. I still love my body. It's fine. Who cares? Who really cares? As long as you have a good personality, who gives a s***?

Society makes it hard for women to improve their bodies in a way that is fulfilling, because if you're body confident, then you're asking for it, but if you're not body confident, what's wrong with you? It's like a lose-lose situation.

100%. I remember that first party with the whipped cream and stuff. There were a lot of girls who were like, "I'm not comfortable with this. This is trashy," and I was like, "I don't give a s***, I'm going to go have fun. I don't care."

What other opportunity in life is there ever going to be for you to put it all out on the table?

Not many. I was like, "F*** it." I had that mentality the whole time.

We've talked about it a little bit, but what was your biggest takeaway from being on the show?

My biggest takeaway would probably be always stay true to yourself. Be authentic, because there were some girls who I noticed — guys don't really notice things like this, but they would act differently around just us girls. And then they would act another way when the guys were around. So I was like, "Why put on this fake personality when this guy starts being into you? He's not going to be in love with you. He's going to be in love with this façade you put on. You're never doing that again." 

I've also — I wish I would've realized this before. I went into this thinking, "Are these guys going to like me?" I should have gone in being like, "Am I going to like them?" Even though I'm here for them, basically, they're here for me too.

I feel like it's a mid-20s revelation when you start to ask yourself, "Wait a minute, do I like them?"

Do I even like them?

"Why am I trying so hard when I should be asking myself is this someone that I want to invest my time and energy into?"

If I could've told myself that a year ago throughout college and high school –

Oh my God. I would've saved myself so much time.

Same. I would've never dated anyone probably.

This is what Madelyn hopes viewers will take away from the show

What are you hoping viewers will take away from watching your journey on the show, or what are you hoping maybe other women in their early, mid 20s would learn from watching your time on the show?

As I was watching it back, I was like, "Oh my God, I'm so embarrassed." I threw myself at this guy, but then I had to remind myself, "No, I was being honest with myself and I was putting my heart out on the line." That's really important to do and it's okay to have feelings for people and it's okay to tell them you have feelings for them.

Definitely. I feel like we put a really high commodity on playing it cool. It's that mentality of, "Oh, I'm not going to double text or I'm not going to check to see if he saw my story."

Yeah, who cares? If you're both honest with each other, then they'll let you know if they don't like you. Until then, I'm going to be honest with them and be like, "Hey, I do have feelings for you." I'm not going to be like, "I have to wait an hour to reply." No.

You can catch new episodes of "Temptation Island" on USA on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET.