Last year, Ovie Soko’s life changed when he shot to fame after appearing on Love Island 2019.
But some may not know that Ovie was carving out a successful career in professional basketball before he entered the villa. For the past year, between social media adverts and television appearances, Ovie has been juggling life between being a reality TV star with the demands of professional sport.
Realising he can’t carry on doing both, Ovie must choose the next chapter in his life. Is he built for the show biz industry or will it chew him up and spit him out? To help him decide what to do next, Ovie looks hard at what it means to be a reality TV star and speaks to famous faces in the industry.
Ovie visits fellow Love Island breakout stars Alex and Olivia Bowen at their five-bedroom mansion in Essex. They’ve managed to turn their reality TV careers into a thriving business as influencers, and tell Ovie they can make up to £50k in a good month. But getting lucrative jobs from the industry is one thing - it’s keeping them coming that’s the trick. Olivia says she worries about losing the life they now lead and knows there’s a clock above her head.
Reality stars that play the game right can have long and successful careers. And if anyone knows what it takes to get into the premiere league of reality TV stardom, it is multimillionaire Vicky Pattinson. Vicky admits she sacrificed respect for attention in the beginning of her career and regrets having sex on TV’s Geordie Shore. But after becoming Queen of the Jungle in I’m a Celebrity, she was able to reinvent herself, bring out a book, secure multiple television shows and cement herself as one of British television’s most well-known TV personalities. For her, the price of fame is worth it.
But Ovie knows there’s a dark side to the glamorous celebrity lifestyle, and goes to speak to one of the original bad boys of reality TV - The Only Way Is Essex’s Mario Falcone - about the constant scrutiny, expectation and pressure that this world can bring. After being a figure of hate on the series for years, a cheating accusation, and a very public break-up, Mario talks to Ovie about how he felt his character was manipulated for the show, and how the resulting backlash from the public - including death threats - drove him to a suicide attempt.
There’s clear gain that can be made from the industry, and people like Vicky, Mario, Alex and Olivia have all been lucky enough to cash in, but Ovie must consider that most reality TV celebrities don’t make it big and some can be scarred by their experience.
Back in London, Ovie goes to speak to the people who know him best - his family. Ovie’s parents think he should stick with basketball, at least for now, but ultimately they just want what’s best for their son.
Ovie: Life After Reality TV will be available on BBC iPlayer on Tuesday 10th November.