Phoebe And Chad Reflect On Their Love Island Connection And Death Threats - Exclusive Interview

In classic reality TV form, it's incredibly easy to forget that the people we see engaging in silly challenges, flirting with the enemy, and falling in love are actual human beings. Sure, they're usually drop-dead gorgeous and come with an established social media following, but that doesn't make them any more immune to the pressures and difficulties that life can throw at us. Add in social media trolls, overly enthusiastic viewers, and a pressure-cooker environment, and you have the perfect recipe for chaos.


When Phoebe Siegel entered the villa amid "Love Island" Season 4, she quickly became one to watch. Having formed connections with multiple men in the villa, Phoebe soon transformed into social media public enemy No. 1, with many viewers voicing their opinions about her. Even when Phoebe and current connection Chad Robinson left the villa ahead of the season finale, people couldn't wait for them to exit. "About time!! Good riddance," one person wrote on Twitter. The hate has been incessant, with it seemingly being shown time and time again that Phoebe and Chad were not real-life 21- and 23-year-olds, but rather characters in an elaborate plot. That couldn't be further from the truth, and the two young and (hopefully) in love stars sat down with The List for an exclusive interview to dish all about "Love Island." They revealed vulnerable truths about their experiences since the show ended, elaborated on the death threats that Phoebe has received, and discussed how they're moving forward with their lives since finding each other.


The couple reveals their status outside the villa

I want to get into the details, the nitty gritty, everything that comes with it. First and foremost, give me an update as to where you guys are now in your lives. So much has changed, I'm sure, in the last couple of weeks.


Phoebe Siegel: I'm at school, so that's really weird for me. A lot of change is happening. I'm mourning my old life a little bit while also indulging in this new one. There's a lot of mixed emotions, a lot of exciting emotions. Chad and I, we hung out outside of the villa right after we left. We're in Michigan. We've been texting and communicating, and we intend on seeing each other.

Chad, anything to add? How's life been? What's this whirlwind experience been like?

Chad Robinson: It's been dope. There's definitely been more stuff going on. It's some of what Phoebe said — it's interesting having a small little veer into what your reality is like. But it hasn't been extremely different for me, specifically in the sense of the reality part, because I don't really have any social media. I don't have some crazy amount of bombarding. It's only people that I already know who are hitting me up more. As far as the other side of it, I don't really see it. I don't really know what's going on.


Phoebe, though — as she said, we've been able to hang out outside of the villa, which is dope. That definitely elevated our connection as well. And we're close. I'm still on the other side of the state. I got to move all my stuff out back. When I get back to that side, we're going to try and hang out [and] have a good time.

What drew Phoebe and Chad together that we didn't see on screen?

I want to get into the show and everything that happened. We'll start with you, Chad. When you recoupled with Courtney [Boerner] after Casa Amor, you had a connection with Phoebe. What was it about her that drew you in? And vice versa, Phoebe, the same question — maybe elements that we weren't able to see on screen.


Chad: Phoebe's dope. For one, she's very beautiful. Look at her face. And two, she's bold — not that she doesn't give a f***, but she says it how it is. She goes about her business, and she doesn't take anything from anybody. She's also very intelligent. I would even go as far as to say she might be the most intelligent person in the villa. [She and I] are similar on that wavelength. In some aspects, I think I might [have the] edge. Well, that's for another day.

Phoebe: See, I could be older, wiser.

Chad: But when it comes to brute intelligence, she's very high in that category, and that's super attractive. Not that everybody else there wasn't smart, but she's a different caliber of intelligence. I thought that was really attractive as well as [her being] very pretty, and she's not scared. That's what drew me to her.


Phoebe: What drew me to Chad was the fact that it felt very organic in the way that I deal with situations in the outside world. That was very refreshing for me because I did have a rocky journey in there, and I really was trying to go and find if I connected with anyone, which is the name of the game. Chad made me feel very safe and comforted in times of need.

I'm very vulnerable with everyone, but there's a threshold [past which] I don't allow myself to [get] even more vulnerable. With Chad, there was something about his energy that allowed me to open up to him more than I probably have opened up to a lot of people in my life. And he knows that. He's so f***ing hot. Not only am I so physically attracted to him, but similar to what he was mentioning, our conversations had this amazing mixture of weirdness and fun and authenticity while, also, when we had to be serious and we wanted to get to know each other and have some serious conversations, we were able to have those, but also keep a lightheartedness to those conversations. That was refreshing, especially [with how] being in the villa does feel a little bit like a pressure cooker.

It felt as though when Chad [and I] spoke, we were [in] the outside world on a lunch date or on a dinner date or having conversations that felt authentic to the both of us. Instead of asking, "What do you look for in a partner?" or "How do you like to date?" or "What do you like in bed?" — things like that, we had these very natural conversations that kept drawing me in.


I'm a conversationalist, so I can talk very well, but with him, it was almost as though I didn't want to talk. That is what solidified that I had a romantic connection with him, because I can talk someone's ear off, but when I want to listen, that's when I know that there's actually something there.

Phoebe addresses the bullying she's received online

Phoebe, you've been the subject of quite a lot of criticism online. What's your response to that now that you're getting your footing outside of the villa?

Phoebe: I respect and appreciate this show as well as this niche of television, and I was a polarizing character within the villa. I did what you're supposed to do when you go on "Love Island." If one connection doesn't work out, you look at the options and you [think], "Maybe this will work out," "Maybe let me try this," "Let me try that." In the end, if you don't find something, at least I was content and at peace with the fact that I tried.


There were times [when] I was in the villa and I was everyone's friend, but it's not fun being in the villa when you're everyone's friend. [In] certain situations, I was like, "Let me keep putting myself out there." And with every part of my journey, I kept learning more and more and more about myself, which eventually was the reason I felt my best self when I got my connection with Chad. And now [in] the outside world, [I get] to be my best self and continu[e] on.

With the death threats and the quantity of death threats that I've received and the nasty comments, the articles written about me saying that I have the energy of a mean girl, and I'm not a girl's girl, all [my] actions, this and that — everyone's entitled to their opinion, and everyone's perception is their reality. What is so different is that people at home are watching five seconds of my conversation [or] five minutes of my conversation. Meanwhile, they're neglecting to understand that I'm in there 24 hours [a day] talking, having these conversations that last an hour to an hour and a half, or 20 minutes or 30 minutes or 10 minutes, and they're only seeing so little.


To jump to such assumptions about my character and to attack my character when I pride myself on being a girl's girl and a compassionate friend ... I'm a women's studies minor. I'm a hardcore feminist. I think that it's been taken out of context and really spun around. Out of all the comments that have been thrown at me and everything that has happened, the worst one is "You deserve everything that's coming for you. You deserve what people are saying about you. You deserve all of this." When you're reading that — I'm getting death threats here, death threats there, whatever — but when you hear you deserve—

It changes the narrative, for sure.

Phoebe: It changes the narrative. Now every time I read a death threat, it's "[You] deserve to kill [your]self. [You] deserve to choke and die. [You] deserve to never be loved."

Phoebe maintains that viewers didn't see the whole story

[It's] this strange, twisted thing when you came to a show to find love that's centered around people finding love. That's an odd dichotomy, I'm sure.

Phoebe: And the reason people love this show is because there are people who are courageous enough to put themselves out there for millions to watch them be so vulnerable, emotionally, physically, mentally. That's what I did. I was being myself. They didn't see everything that happened. They didn't see all my girl chats that I had. Everyone in the villa knows that I had all of these conversations with the girls before I ever pursued anything. What they see is not the full story.


I am a mental health advocate here on my campus. I'm the president of Mental Health Matters. And now experiencing some things that some of the students in my organization have experienced, it makes me want to take my exposure and act on anti-bullying, anti-cyberbullying, anti-harassment, things like that, because I will not be silenced by intimidat[ion] or by people online. I have a voice and I will let it be heard. I'm right now digesting everything.

I'm keeping my head held high, because people can say all they want, but everyone in that villa, we have an inseparable bond because we all know exactly what happened. I'm literally best friends with every single girl that I had the amazing opportunity to meet, and that says a lot. If these girls in the villa love me unconditionally and are texting me all the time, and we're talking, and we were all so sad to see each and every one of us go, and this and that, that speaks more [than] the five-second conversation you saw or the kiss you saw or whatever. There's a lot more to it, and I'm at peace with everything I did. These comments — people might think that they're scaring me or intimidating me or affecting me, but [they're] not.


What does Chad think of the hate Phoebe has received?

Chad, what's your response to all of this?

Chad: I've been waiting for this. For one, if you feel the need to go that far with any comment that you [make based on] what you're perceiving on TV, you're weird and creepy. That's the first thing. [The] second thing is, you have to understand that I respect the producers and I respect the whole gig, but this is TV. Even from a simple mathematical standpoint, the longest episode is, what, 42 minutes maybe? There might be [a] longer, specialty one. You're seeing 42 minutes of 24 hours on a good day of experiences. And not only that — if you take away all the beach hut interviews and all that type of stuff, the interviews that are personal to you, that's another 10 minutes that are taken away.


You're [seeing] such a small snippet of an entire day of experiences and small conversations you have with people. One thing from what I saw involving Phoebe is that she was probably the most straightforward person in there. [With] everything she did, nothing was out of the blue. Everybody knew what she was going to do before she did it. [For] everything that was controversial, weird, or whatever people want to say, there was an entire respectful scenario that happened before anything happened.

For instance, I can speak about my situation with her. When Courtney [and I] were still together, Phoebe [and I] never even kissed outside of a challenge, which is not something that everybody else granted to each other in a scenario like that. But we made sure we did, and we didn't even get close. We never cuddled or anything.


The way she went about everything was so respectful. It was always a conversation. It was always a very mutual understanding of exactly what's about to happen. All the girls talked about that too, which is great. You have to understand what's actually going on. That's why I think if you actually are taking it that far and not understanding the big picture [and feel] you need to say stuff like that, then you're weird.

The couple addresses any regrets they have from their time in the villa

We've talked quite a bit about what really went on behind the scenes, what you wish viewers would've been able to see differently. Do either of you have any regrets from your time on the show?

Chad: No, not at all. Everything I did on the show, personally, was completely organic. It was my gut feeling [about] how I should go about things. That show is an easy place [to] start to veer away from who you are as a person. I know for a fact within myself, I did it, which is why I think at the end of the day, I moved how a normal person would [in] some of the situations that I was in. I respected who I was connecting with [and] who I wasn't connecting with. We were all on the same wavelength. I'm really happy with how it all ended up, being able to walk out with Phoebe, being able to bond with her.


I had such a great time [with] everything in between too. Everything leading up to it was so that this could happen how it did. I had such a great time. It was such a dope experience. I don't regret anything.

Phoebe: I don't regret any of my actions. One thing I do want to say is in a conversation with Mackenzie [Dipman], I know that I did raise my voice — not raise it, but get a little intense, and that has a longer story to it. I was finally so happy after being so vulnerable and having such a hard journey in the villa that I finally had a straight line and not a triangle. There was a lot more to the conversations that occurred. I was very emotional in the moment, and it had nothing to do with Mackenzie or me going off like that. It had everything to do with my emotional reaction to everything, and I did apologize to Mackenzie. I was like, "My 21 was showing. I'm so sorry." And Mackenzie [and I] hugged it out. She's like, "I totally understand from your side how you had that response." Things were said in the dressing room.


I want to say, I am sorry for that. I know people have been viewing that as something that is not nice or seems a little mean, but there's a lot more [to] the story. I hold honest, calm, and collected conversations [in] very high regard in my life. Watching that over and even feeling that right after it happened, that is something that I regret doing. But I'm human. I learned sometimes you can't control your emotions and how they express themselves [at] whatever given time. While I acknowledge that I'm human and that happens, I wouldn't say it's a regret, but it's something in the villa that I did not take lightly. I definitely went out of that conversation and did a lot of reflecting and tried to understand where that even came from. And now I know that it came from me being emotional. Positive.

"Love Island" Season 4 concluded on August 28. The reunion episode will drop on September 1 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

This interview has been edited for clarity.