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The nation's most famous block of flats welcomes its latest set of residents. A £100k prize is at stake in an unpredictable game of popularity. The players will be living just metres apart, but they can't see or hear each other. Instead they communicate via a voice-activated platform called The Circle.

NAME: Manrika

AGE: 24

OCCUPATION: Recruitment Consultant and Content Creator

FROM: Birmingham


What is your MOTIVATION FOR ENTERING THE CIRCLE? What is it about the game that made you want to apply?

Obviously, the money side of things. We've struggled quite a lot our whole lives so to be able to win that money would completely change our lives. The other big thing that I’m going on the show for is that I've been judged my whole life for the way I live because I come from an Indian background. My parents and family are very westernised but it’s the wider society, the way that I live isn't the expectation of what an Indian girl should be. So, I'm going on to show that you can still live your life, have that social media lifestyle and also be a respectable girl. It's very rare to see an Indian girl on a TV show. I’m probably going to get a lot of stick for it from the wider Indian community but I just want to help other people and I want Indian parents to watch the way that I conduct myself and know what sort of lifestyle I have and think ‘maybe my daughter can go out and do that’.

Have you watched the show before and did that give you any tips on how to play the game?

Yeah, I have! I think a lot of people stuck to one or two people. For example, Brooke stuck with Georgina. A tip I took is that it's good to mingle with everybody and be friends with everybody. But don't do an Ella and call everybody your bestie! It got to a point where Georgina was the only one who had Brooke’s back. If it comes to a stage that you're not an influencer and someone's getting blocked, you need everybody to have your back.

What is your STRATEGY to win the show? Are there any specific tactics that you think will help you win?

It’s going to be good to get to know everybody and make notes of what everyone's doing. I have a bit of a radar, I know within the first couple of minutes whether or not I'm going to like somebody, and that's over a text conversation. They always say don't judge a book by its cover, but I do and it's probably not the best way to live, but every time I've not had a reason for disliking somebody, they've eventually done something wrong.

I'm also going to be very watchful about the way people talk about other people. Because if you're talking about somebody else, you’re probably saying the same about me.

I’d like people to feel like they can confide and trust me, that would give me a massive advantage. Not to say that I’m going to exploit that trust, but I can use it to my advantage to get to where I need to be.

Why did you decide to play yourself and not another character? I decided to play myself because of the message that I want to give across. I think I've got the best advantage playing myself because I’m a genuine down to earth person, I'm a bubbly character, I can get on with everybody. Going in as someone else, I’d forget half the stuff I’ve said so it would backfire, and then I’d be blocked straight away. And there's no point going in as someone else because I don't need to hide who I am from the world. I don't need to pretend to be anything that I'm not.

What do you want viewers at home to think of you or learn from you? I want people to watch the show and not think that people from broken families are disappointing. Indian parents that split up, it’s seen as such a big thing, It's ridiculous. I've only got one friend whose parents are still together, it's so normal but in Indian society it’s not. We have people say to my mum,

you should find somebody, but she’s happy on her own! I also want to show that I can go out to a party, go to work, live the life I want, I don't need to be married by 25 and have children to fill that expectation. I can still be a person your daughters can be friends with or look up to. I don't need to hide any part of my life, as long as my family are okay with what I'm doing. I want to get across the message that we should be respected and that my family are still amazing even though we are broken.

How do you feel about being on TV?

It's scary! It's nerve wracking because essentially, you're giving up your privacy, whether or not everybody ends up knowing you or a certain amount of people, there's still people out there that when I'm out and about, they’re going to know my face. And it's weird to think that but I'm excited! It's something completely different. I'm excited about it more than anything, nervous but excited.

How much do you use social media in the real world?

I can’t get off my phone! I'm terrible. My account only started picking up at the start of lockdown with TikTok. I started doing voiceovers of people then I started speaking with my own voice and everybody loved my accent and my banter, I'm very sarcastic. My second language is sarcasm. I try to post a picture a day to keep my socials up, I love it, but I also know it's fake. Social media can be a toxic place, but it can also be an amazing platform to meet new people and help people. At the moment for me it’s a really happy place, but I’m not saying it's going to be like that forever, you just never know!

In real life how does your online social media self differ to who you really are in person?

Not much really! I used to care a lot about what people thought about me on social media. I used to think ‘oh I can't post that because there's a smudge in that corner. I can't put this video on my story because I've got no makeup on’. But since the start of this year something clicked, and I realised that the life I was living on social media was making me unhappy. I was caring too much about what people thought. Now, I literally wake up in the morning and post with no makeup on.

People who meet me in person say my personality is exactly the same, I’m no different to what I am on social media. I’m just very open and real, rather than giving off this persona of a lifestyle that I haven’t got.

Who do you admire on social media? Who do you think uses it well? It's going to sound really cliché, but Georgina from series two of The Circle, she’s amazing. She actually followed me on Instagram about two weeks ago, which is crazy because I've never spoken to her before. After watching her on The Circle and then seeing the way she uses her platform, it’s amazing.

There's also a girl that I follow who's got endometriosis and she uses her

platform to raise awareness. I think anybody that uses it to raise awareness about a disability or an illness, is good because people don't understand. You can read up about it, but people don't actually understand the ins and outs of it until you see it. It's good to educate other people on how others have to live their life. I do love fashion people too like Miss Jocelyn on Instagram. She's a fashion blogger and love her style. If I had all the money in the world, I'd buy her whole Instagram!

Have you ever been catfished? Or caught a catfish?

I've never been catfished because I’m not an idiot. My friends on the other hand, are idiots! I caught a catfish out, because one of my friends had been speaking to a girl for six weeks and I said to him for six weeks, she ain’t real! She might have 4000 followers on Instagram but I'm telling you she’s not real. She had no photos with friends, no photos of family, she wasn’t tagged in any photos, she never posted any videos to her Instagram story, she's a catfish! Lo and behold a month later, somebody called her out on Instagram saying, ‘can you please report this account, someone's pretending to be me’, so I was like, I told you so!

Do you think you'll be able to spot any catfish on the show? I think I have a good chance. It will be more difficult because you can be whoever you want to be behind the photo. So, it's going to be more than catching people out, it's going to be paying attention to detail. And then bring stuff up the in conversation in a smart way to see how they react. With photos you can't necessarily tell, unless it looks like it’s come out of an Ikea photo frame! In recruitment I have to speak to different people on a daily basis, over the phone and over email. And there's a lot of fake profiles on LinkedIn!

Do you think what you say on The Circle matters or will you say anything if it would help you win?

What you say in The Circle does matter because it's going to affect your life. But yes, I will say what I want to help me win. Whatever I say will be morally correct, it might not be everybody's preference and opinion, but my opinion will be my opinion. I'm not going to say something to impress somebody else. I'll agree with people if I think it'll get them on my side, but I won't say certain things to impress, because that's not who I am. If I start lying, I'll slip up so there’s just no point. Say what you think, be as real as possible, people can't dislike you for being real because that's who you are. They might not agree with your opinions and think that you should live life in a different way but that's their life not yours.

Do you ever use social media to flirt or look for love?

No, I don't like this generation, I’m not going to lie to you. I hate the fact that conversations with boys have to start in a DM then you get asked on a date then you have to talk over text. I hate texting, I'll read a message and say I’ll reply to that later then two or three days go by, I'll be like, ‘Oh no, I didn't reply’ and then at that point, it's too rude to reply because it's been so long. I have used it for that reason in the past, but it lasts about two days before I get bored. My flirt game is strong though, I can get what I want out of a guy. I very rarely bring it out because I just can't be bothered. I’d much prefer to go out, meet someone in a bar, get to know them then go on a date.

Has social media made it easier or more difficult for people to find romance? Do you think it is possible to fall in love online?

I think it's made it a lot more difficult. I do think it's possible to fall in love online because I've got friends who have met their partners through social media and are in long term relationships. But I think it's a lot more difficult because of the expectation social media has put on our generation, you look on social media and you see guys covering rooms with rose petals and balloons and flowers. And people want a guy to do that for them. But that's not the norm, you shouldn't expect that. People expect flowers and designer things because of the way that relationships are perceived on social media, people's expectations are so much higher than they should be. Be happy with someone cooking you dinner or picking you up and saying let's grab a coffee, just little things like that. It doesn't have to be materialistic.

Will you be open to people flirting with you on the show?

Well, yeah if they’re fit, I'm single! It'll give you an advantage, I don't mind having a flirt on TV. I'm quite flirty person anyway and I flirt without knowing it. So yeah, I’m open to it.

Do you want to win? How far will you go to win?

As far as I need to go really, I’ll do what it takes to win. At the end of the show there’s £100,000 that will change my family's life. I'm never going to do anything that's awful, disrespectful, or something that's going to really hurt someone's feelings. But everybody gets through life by manipulating certain situations to get what they want. Everybody does, whether you consciously know it or not. So, if it means tactical voting is what I have to do, then so be it. If it means befriending people I don't particularly like, but I know can help me, then so be it. It's going to be hard to determine how far you're going to go until you can assess the situation. But I’ll never do anything that's going to really disrespect people.

What would you do with the prize money?

We live in a rented property at the moment, which we’ve lived in for the past 10 years. It's obviously dead money but we've never been able to afford to buy. When my mom and dad split up, we moved into this house and that was in 2010. We’ve made it our home and we love this house, but it isn’t in an area that I want to live in forever. If it's £100,000, I’d put money aside for a deposit to buy a nice house. I'd like to be able to say to my mum, ‘I’ve bought you a house’. I'd like to give my dad £30,000, so that he can put a deposit down on a student property in London to be able to rent and invest it. But then I want to blow the rest, I want to live. Just the little things that aren’t a luxury for other people, are a luxury for us. I want us to go on holiday, we haven’t been on a family holiday for three years because we can’t afford it.

Any surprising facts or hidden talents that we should know about you? No. That I’m an idiot? My sarcasm is my talent really! Or my comeback-ability, people call me the queen of comebacks. I say things before even thinking about it, so it ends up being the stupidest but funniest thing in the world. I can do seven shots of Sambuca at once. I can eat £30 worth of Chinese takeaway to myself, is that a talent? I’d say that’s a talent.

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