Sound the iconic and familiar Love Island theme tune, as the drama-filled dating show’s winter edition is officially upon us. Based in South Africa and hosted by the one and only Maya Jama, the new season kicks off on Jan 16, and is already shaping up into a doozy if the contestant lineup is anything to go by. Shaq Muhammad was among the first lot of Islanders announced by ITV bound for the villa in a bid to find love, and his expectations – like ours, to be fair – are high. Shaq is hoping he might find someone he “hope[s] to marry one day.” While Shaq calls himself a romantic and believes that parents always love him, he also revealed to ITV that his sisters think he’s “a bit of a Casanova.” All in, the perfect mix for some Love Island drama. Here’s everything there is to know about Shaq Muhammad.
What Is Shaq’s Job?
The 24-year-old is based in London and works as an airport security officer. And he’ll no doubt be the “talk of the terminal” following his decision to become an islander. In conversation with Bustle and select few members of the press, the Islander said he’s totally comfortable with that. “I know how to handle tough situations,” he said, “I work at an airport where people are in difficult situations trying to catch their flights, so I think I’ll be good inside the villa.”
Shaq’s mates often told him he would be great on Love Island, he said, and so in August 2022 the airport security officer applied to the dating show. “I’ve been honest about the show and what I want to get out of it, and I think that drew them to me,” he says.
Speaking about getting time off work to head to South Africa, he shared his manager’s hilarious. “She was very excited,” he told Bustle, “and she said ‘don’t forget me!’ [laughing] But I did have to keep it to myself for obvious reasons and only within the inner circle, so no one else at work knew.”
While Shaq isn’t sure what life after Love Island will look like, he is aware it will be different. “ITV have gone through the upsides and downsides of being on the show but you can never fully prepare until you come out and experience it. I think it’s important to have a good support system in family and friends to keep me grounded, and I’m glad I have that,” he told Bustle.
What Is Shaq’s Instagram?
Shaq had 1.8k followers on Instagram when his participation in the show was announced. Like other contestants, his bio reads, “I’m off to find love in the Love Island villa. See you soon!” Via @shaq24s_ Shaq shares holiday snaps, graduation photos, and counter-top fit checks.
What Else Is There To Know About Shaq?
A self-confessed softy, Shaq loves getting cosy for a romantic film and having a sob. “Every time I watch Dear John I cry,” he says. “That’s my favourite film. Any time I’m with someone and they say, ‘Let’s watch a romantic film,’ I’m like, ‘How about Dear John, how does that sound?’”
As well as readily letting his emotions out during a screening of his favourite film, Shaq is upfront about his search to find the one in the villa, as well as his tendency to fall for people quickly. “My family and friends would say I do,” he said to ITV. “I’m the type of person that wears my heart on my sleeve. If I find someone I click with, I fall very hard, very fast. Sometimes that can be a bad thing. I’m a very emotional person. It can be a blessing and a curse.”
Personality is everything, he told Bustle. “I know you probably hear this all the time, but I don’t really have a type I’m more of a personality person. I like funny, kind, open, and honest people. Someone I can have fun with, who’s your partner and best friend, all rolled into one, and has a good sense of humour—these are the top of my list,” he added. “Also being smart or having a good dress sense.”
Speaking about what turns him off, Shaq shared a very specific turn off with ITV. “I don’t like rude people. It automatically puts me off. That and slang words - if you call me ‘bro’ I’m off.. I can’t handle that.” As for stepping on other people’s toes in his quest to find love, Shaq isn’t worried. “In a show like this I feel like you’re gonna finish last if you don’t try hard, so if I see someone I like, with whom I can have a genuine connection I’ll go for it. It’s every man for himself in there so yeah I’ll just go for it and I can’t hold back,” he explains. He’s hopeful that his romantic side will lend him a hand in the villa. “I think it’s important to be romantic, especially with people you want to impress. So I think my romantic side is a plus in my favour and I’ll need to pull out all the stops won’t I?”
“I haven’t had the best luck with previous relationships,” he told ITV. “So I thought, ‘Why not be in the sun and potentially meet the love of my life?’ Hopefully I do come out with my future wife. The person I hope to marry one day. Hopefully she’s in the villa.” But the Islander does have one thing he’s especially nervous about: his parents seeing him on screen. “I think they’re going to be surprised by everything, my parents have never seen me flirt with a girl or get with her or even have casual conversation. So it’ll be shocking for them to see me flirting in general,” he said with a laugh.
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