Her surprise arrival at the Love Island Australia villa in episode three caused a stir, as did her ground-breaking romance with a fellow female Islander.
And now, reality star Phoebe Thompson’s dramatic departure following last night’s brutal re-coupling ceremony has also been shrouded in controversy.
The 28-year-old credit analyst opens up about her ‘overwhelming’ experience on the reality TV show in an exclusive chat with Yahoo Lifestyle the morning after she was sent packing.
The statuesque Sydneysider reveals why she was ‘100 per cent’ ready to leave the show and that she fully intended to couple up with a man before she went in.
She also shares the truth behind those rumours that her relationship with contestant Cassie Lansdell was fake.
Phoebe sent home
Phoebe was sent home in episode nine after being left partner-less when her on-and-off-again love Cassie, 26, coupled up with newcomer and identical twin Luke.
But while she admits she was ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘anxious’ about leaving the villa, Phoebe says that at the end of the day, she was keen to leave.
“I was 100 per cent ready to go,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“I think a lot of it has got to do with me being 28 [years old], so I was quite a bit older than everyone in the villa,” she explains.
She adds that she wasn’t “attracted to anyone apart from Cassie,” and when that didn’t work out, she realised she was ready to go home.
“With me and Cassie, it wasn’t the right environment for us to explore the feelings we had for each other ... once I knew that, I thought there’s no purpose for me being here,” she says.
‘I see myself with a man’
As for her romance with Cassie, Phoebe asserts that she didn’t go on Love Island with the intent to couple up with a woman nor ‘come out.’ In fact, she wanted to find a boyfriend.
“To me, I wouldn’t really call it ‘coming out.’ I’m not labelling myself as a lesbian or a bisexual or anything,” she says.
“I had no plans to couple up with a girl. I went in there to find a boyfriend but I also said to myself that I’m going to be completely honest ... I’m not going to fake being attracted to a boy just because it’s a ‘safer’ option,” she adds.
In terms of her sexuality, Phoebe says she’s ‘still figuring it out’ but, if she does start dating post-show, it’ll likely be with a man.
“When I look at my future at this current point in time I probably see myself with a man but as I said this is only a new thing for me and I think it takes a bit of time to figure out exactly what you want with anything in life,” she explains.
For now, however, Phoebe says she “needs more time on my own” before starting a new relationship, and says she had just come out of a ‘pretty intense’ relationship with a man before appearing on the show.
Phoebe’s family fallout
Once she left the villa, Phoebe was faced with the ‘scary’ response from her family and fans following her and Cassie’s surprise hook-up - a first for the dating series in Australia - in episode five.
“It was really scary, the mental and emotional strain and all the insecurities and the fears about making a bold statement like that,” she admits.
“I mean, it is 2019 so [a same-sex relationship] shouldn’t be a big deal but I think because it was a first on Love Island Australia it just heightened my anxiety about it,” she says.
“I was really scared that I might have embarrassed my family and that people were going to be really judgemental,” she adds and says that she’s yet to look at social media.
She has, however, spoken to her sister and mum who she tells Yahoo Lifestyle were supportive - and surprisingly lighthearted.
Phoebe says her mum joked, “I’d be happy if you were into girls so I wouldn’t have to deal with anymore d*ckheads!”
Phoebe and Cassie’s ‘fake’ romance rumours
Phoebe also addressed rumours that her and Cassie’s romance was instigated - or at least helped along - by producers behind the scenes.
The speculation began after eagle-eyed viewers suspected that the dart challenge in episode five was rigged - that Phoebe didn’t hit a bullseye - to ensure the contestants would share a kiss.
According to Phoebe, that’s all untrue.
“I definitely hit a bullseye ... honestly, it was a fluke!” she says.
She adds that ‘everyone’ - her fellow Islanders and the crew - were supportive and that she was never ‘forced’ into doing anything.
‘No hard feelings’
The brunette beauty tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she has ‘no hard feelings’ toward Luke or Cassie, and, in fact, she gives them her blessing.
“I honestly don’t have any feelings towards Luke ... [he’s] the best match for [Cassie],” she says.
Before exiting the villa, Phoebe shared a long hug with her former flame, and says she’d love to get in contact ‘on the outside’.
“We already know that we’re going to be great friends, we both live in Sydney as well,” she says.
“We went through that experience together on national TV and that’s something we’ll always share for the rest of our lives ... so of course we’re going to be friends. I have no hard feelings toward Cassie or anyone in the villa,” she adds.
Love Island airs Monday to Friday on Channel Nine.
Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at email@example.com
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.