Love Island has become a way for young, beautiful single people in the UK and Ireland to find fame and fortune, rather than just companionship.
The ITV series is an “influencer-making machine”, but this year’s original line-up features a creator who’s already internet famous in TikTok star Will Young, also known as Farmer Will. We’ve seen how Love Island turns people into influencers but what happens when a well-known TikToker enters the villa? We’re about to find out.
For those chronically online, Young will be familiar – it’s likely he’s appeared on their For You Page and before even entering the villa he had 1.1 million TikTok followers (not to mention 126,000 on Instagram). In comparison, the winner of the only other winter series so far in 2020, Finley Tapp, has 1.2 million Instagram followers, nearly three years after appearing on the show. Young already has what every contestant wants, which is to be a bonafide influencer, so what’s his motivation to join the show? In his own words, he is looking for love and a “wife to help me out on the farm” but I would argue what he actually wants is to become a household name.
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Young is far from the first influencer to enter the villa, but he is the first to have such a massive following already under his belt. Molly-Mae Hague, now one of the most successful former contestants, had 150,000 Instagram followers ahead of her stint on the series back in 2019 and Kaz Kamwi’s Instagram boasted 60,000 followers before she appeared on the show in 2021. Not to mention, there have also been a number of fame-adjacent contestants such as former footballer Michael Owen’s daughter Gemma Owen in 2022, actor Danny Dyer’s daughter Dani Dyer winning the show in 2018 and Blazin’ Squad’s Marcel Somerville‘s appearance in 2017. Their followers and influence have skyrocketed since then, with Hague becoming the blueprint for success.
Young isn’t a conventional influencer. His TikTok is about looking after his sheep on a Buckinghamshire farm, which is not always pretty (he has documented the lambs dying and sheep giving birth – not to mention, he has been criticised by PETA for exploiting animals) but does show the realities of working on a farm. Oh, and he’s sometimes shirtless, too – in more typical Love Island fashion.
As for his success in the villa, his sizeable TikTok audience might be more likely to save him during public votes. His time in the villa also depends on who he couples up with. If the public adores his partner, that could carry him to the final even if people don’t favour him. It’s all about charisma and personality, as well as playing the game.
After the series, he’ll certainly see exponential growth in followers, but depending on brand deals and other reality TV gigs, it’s unlikely he’ll return to farming – don’t forget, he’s already signed to a talent management agency. Like the contestants before him, my bet is Young will follow the money, meaning he’ll no longer be Farmer Will which is a shame. After all, that’s the person his TikTok audience fell for in the first place.
By Caroline Edwards, news and features writer for CORQ. Picture credit: Will Young via Instagram.