Exclusive Interview with Rachel Hamel from ‘Temptation Island’

Mario Perez/USA NetworK

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Temptation Island is one of the best reality TV shows this year. The reboot of the beloved Fox hit from the early 2000s follows four dating couples at the most vulnerable time in their relationship. They travel together to Maui, but are soon split apart as they move into separate houses with 12 attractive singles of the opposite sex. At the end of the show, each couple will decide whether to stay together, leave the island with someone new, or leave completely alone.

Rachel Hamel is one of the singles on the current season of the show. A swimsuit designer from New York, she came to Temptation Island with nothing to lose as she opened herself up to the possibility of a connection. I got the chance to talk with Rachel about how she ended up on the show, what initially attracted her to Casey, whether or not she views relationships and dating differently after having been on the show, her love of the Jonas Brothers and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!

Tell me first a little bit about how you got cast on the show. Did you ever have a desire to do reality TV or did Temptation Island just kind of happen and you were like, “You know what, let’s try this out”?

I’m actually a huge reality TV fan. I’m obsessed with The Bachelor and all of those. I’ve always wanted to be on a show. I’m actually friends with Johnny [Alexander] from last season, just from being local in New York we have some mutual friends, and I actually applied to Temptation Island as a joke. Kind of like, “Ha ha Johnny, I’m next. Watch out.” And then about two hours later, I got a phone call from casting. So it’s kind of funny how it all worked out.

That’s too funny. Since you love reality TV and you are friends with Johnny, did you watch last season or any of the older seasons from when it was first on the air?

I’ve seen last season, the first season that was on USA. I have not seen the old ones. It’d kind of be fun to watch them and see the differences between our show and the ones from the early 2000s. But no, I haven’t seen them. 

Talking about your specific experience on this show, the first time we meet the singles, they have you walk out in front of the couples and introduce yourselves. Was Casey someone you had your eye on immediately? Or did one of the other three guys catch your eye at first?

I was initially attracted to David the most. When we first walk out there, we’re honestly kind of far away and you don’t really get a deep look at who these guys are. But then at the mixer, I kind of got to know Casey a little bit better, and I just kind of felt more myself around him. I felt more comfortable. I think with some of the other guys, I didn’t have that natural connection, where you feel like you don’t have to pretend to be someone else for them like you.

We don’t see a ton of you until episode four, when we see Casey finally ask you out on a date. I’m curious: what was going on with you guys up until that point? Were you guys hanging out a ton?

So the first few days of all of us knowing each other, I think that Payton kind of marked her territory and it was just kind of this given that they were hanging out all the time, but then I kind of did sneak my way in. After the cocktail party, when we’re all kind of dressed up after the first date, Casey and I got to know each other a little bit more. We actually had a small date that I planned at the villa. I made him brunch and we both talked about how we love bottomless mimosas. So we sat outside and had a brunch date on our own. And they didn’t show that on TV and I kind of wish they had.

I feel like that would have filled in a lot of the gaps for viewers because, not that you necessarily came out of nowhere, but it was like, “Okay, here’s Rachel and Casey. That’s a thing.”

Yeah. Rather than being random Rachel [laughs]. I’m like, “I wasn’t random.”

Yeah, and it’s interesting that you mentioned how, for the first few days, it was very much Payton marking her territory because that was something I was going to ask you about. At least on TV, she came off super aggressive towards Casey and constantly seems to be mad at him for not being where she is with her feelings whereas you seem to have much more of, like you said, a natural connection with him and are content to just kind of let things progress as they may. So is that actually how you felt the triangle, for lack of a better phrase, was in the villa or is that just how it’s coming off?

It was definitely a triangle. I wouldn’t say that I was threatened by Payton. I think she was marking her territory and trying to claim her man. But she kept calling him ‘her man’ throughout this whole time and I would just be a little upset at times, saying like, “He’s not her man. He has a girlfriend. They went on one date, so did I. So why would Payton have any more claim over him than I do?”

What was it about Casey that you found attractive?

I really think that it was just his sense of humor and his easygoing personality. I feel like he might not be represented well about how he really is. I think that he’s really laid back and calm. I mean when it comes to talking about Ashley, he gets a little more uptight. But he’s a loving, goofy guy and it’s really easy to talk about anything [with him]. We would sit there and talk about nothing for hours, maybe that’s why you didn’t see much of it on TV [laughs]. But we have a really similar sense of humor. We love referencing weird pop culture things and movie quotes and singing songs together. It was just really fun and natural for us; it felt like we met 10 years ago.

That’s awesome. It’s interesting that you say he’s fun and easygoing. I mean I believe you, but it definitely does not come across like that on TV. 

Yeah.

So something I wanted to ask you about, even though it doesn’t necessarily directly relate to you, is probably the most shocking thing that’s happened so far: the David-Payton-Samantha threesome, even though David has said on Instagram that it’s wasn’t.

[laughs] It wasn’t actually.

Really? Okay. But yeah, I’m dying to know what the mood was like in the villa the next morning and how you guys found out all about that. Really just kind of how it all went down.

So Samantha and David had been talking; they already had a pretty strong connection. So them in the shower, and then moving to the bedroom, wasn’t surprising. Them not kissing I found weird, but he was trying to protect his girlfriend in I don’t know some kind of weird, different reality. I think that Payton was obviously upset at Casey at the time and was just kind of down for whatever. We all were drinking heavily that night – we did call it the blackout party – but I don’t think that’s really an excuse for why Payton jumped in. I think she was just trying to have fun. 

So the next morning, we didn’t know it was both of them at the same time. I thought that David just made out with Payton like randomly somewhere where I didn’t see it. I didn’t know that Sam was in the bed with them [laughs]. So I knew about the shower and I knew about Payton making out with David, but I didn’t realize that it was all together.

Interesting. So when did you find out about that, while you were still in the villa or while you were watching it on TV?

While I was still at the villa, but probably like a week or two later.

Gotcha. You mentioned the blackout party and it seems like you guys, at least in your villa, we’re always having some sort of themed party. Did you have a favorite one?

I feel like the blackout party was really fun. But there is another one coming up that was also really fun. 

You mentioned this brunch that you threw for Casey as something you wish had made it to air. Is there another moment from filming, whether it’s something that happened in the villa or something that happened on one of your dates with Casey, that you wish viewers had gotten to see?

The brunch is a good one. Just in general, I think that there’s a lot of times where we had so much fun. And with Casey especially, I think that we got to know each other really well. With him, he’s kind of like an over-shining personality, so I think that sometimes, in our conversations, you don’t really get to see much of my personality. So I kind of wish sometimes they would show a little bit more of our connection, how we matched each other’s personalities a little bit more. 

Yeah. Showing your connection from your point of view, which I mean it’s not really about singles in that way but… 

Yeah, I feel like it kind of cuts out a lot of where these emotions are coming from.

I’ve always said that I feel like this show needs to be two hours each week just because there’s so many people to focus on and you miss so many things. I’m like, “Wait, where did that come from?” or “that connection came out of nowhere.”

[laughs] I definitely agree. 

I know you can’t obviously give away the ending, but are you happy with how things ended up for you? Do you have any regrets about your time on the show?

I really don’t. Watching it [back], I kind of wish that I could have done something a little bit more crazy [laughs]. But I live with no regrets. I think that with my outcome, I really wouldn’t have changed anything.

Speaking of watching it back, what has watching it back been like? This is your first experience on reality TV, so has it been weird or are you totally comfortable with seeing yourself on TV?

I am pretty comfortable with it. But to be honest, it hasn’t really hit me yet that other people are watching it. It kind of feels like I’m watching a Snapchat story that my friend posted. So it doesn’t really hit me until I see that other people are watching it.

Yeah, but you’re not embarrassed by anything you’ve seen of yourself.

No, I’m not embarrassed by anything. I wouldn’t have come on the show if I thought I was going to be embarrassed by anything I would do here.

Now that you’ve had the chance to take a step back from the show, do you view relationships and dating any differently? 

Oh, yeah. 100% yes. I think that just dating in general is like a completely new thing. You learn to listen more, you learn to think about other people’s perspective besides your own, and you realize kind of what you’ve been doing wrong in the past because you learn from other people and what they’ve been doing wrong with the past; you get to learn it firsthand. All we did there was just talk about our feelings, talk about relationships – what we want, what we don’t want, what we’re doing wrong, what we’re doing right, what we should wait for, what we shouldn’t wait for, etc. So it was kind of like a whole workshop on dating for four weeks, really digging deep into it.

I did want to ask you about your real job. You’re a swimsuit designer. Are you working on your own line of swimsuits? 

No, I’m not working on my own line. I work for a vendor of Target. So I design stuff for them to come and pick out and see. 

That’s awesome. Is it something you’ve been doing since you moved to New York?

Yeah, it was my first job and this is my third job now. You pick out what things look like throughout the whole process as they are making things in factories, making sure it fits right, making sure it passes tests, making sure it’s fashionable, picking out the colors and prints – all of it is just kind of wrapped up into one person’s job and it’s something that a lot of people don’t think about.

That’s really cool. Alright, last question – our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner-nerd. So what is something you are currently nerd out about?

I think that I’m a lot more nerdy than people would think. But one of the big things that I think that I nerd out about is pop culture. I’m a huge Jonas Brothers fangirl. You can ask me anything and I will probably know the answer. I watched the documentary and I already knew all of that.

Temptation Island airs Thursdays at 10/9c on USA. Make sure you follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram

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