A Bronx resident recently stepped out of her traditional Guinea cultural boundaries and appeared on a reality dating show.
In July 2019, Aissata Diallo, 26, who lives in Highbridge, was on the CBS reality show “Love Island.” Diallo spoke with the Bronx Times about her experience and how she may have been the first Guinea woman on a reality program.
Diallo was born in Guinea and immigrated to the Bronx when she was 12. She explained back home women don’t date, men and women get to know each other without physicality, don’t wear revealing clothing and most marriages are typically arranged.
“We are supposed to stay home with our parents,” she said. “There’s no such thing as boyfriends.”
This was the life she knew. It wasn’t until the millennial went to college at the University of Albany that she began to see things differently.
It was there where she learned women can be independent, educated, have careers and be happy. She obtained a degree in human biology in 2014 and her masters in health administration from St. Joe’s University in Philadelphia in 2019.
While she still lives at home and follows some of her values, she dates, dresses how she wants and is a professional model and uses Instagram to promote brands.
“I still love my culture,” she said.
She markets products for companies on IG and in 2018; representatives from “Love Island” took notice and contacted her. Diallo had never seen the show before, so did some research and discovered the show was a mix between “The Bachelor” and “Big Brother,” both of which she likes.
She took a leap of faith and agreed to do the show. It was filmed in July 2019 and the show started with five girls and five guys, but eventually it was more than that. A couple was voted off each week and Diallo made it to the second to last week.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never done reality TV,” she commented.
According to Diallo, while some people in Guinea might have been angry or shocked that she was in a bikini or with a man she wasn’t married to, she was glad she participated.
“Because it was CBS it made want to do it,” she explained. “The stuff they do is family friendly.”
She described it as a wonderful experience. There was no internet, phones or TV, so everyone got to know each other and really had fun. Furthermore, unlike shows on MTV, there were no crazy antics with alcohol or drugs.
Diallo was coupled up with a man named Yamen Sanders on “Love Island,” but they are not still together.
She stressed she handled herself well and truly enjoyed being on the program. Since being home she has gotten more recognition and her mom actually never said anything negative about the show.
“Before I got on it I was nervous because of my family,” she recalled. “The fact that I have a whole personality on Instagram, I didn’t want to ruin it for me. I knew I wasn’t going to make a fool out of myself.”