Before this summer, Alana Morrison ’20 was known to the Bowdoin community as a singer; she released her first EP “Oh Boy” last fall and has performed around campus several times. This summer, however, Morrison had her network-television debut on the U.S. version of the U.K. hit, “Love Island USA.” The Orient sat down with Morrison (before she jetted off to New York Fashion Week) to ask about Love Island and being back at Bowdoin for her senior year.
The Bowdoin Orient: My first question is, how did you get on Love Island? Did you apply?
Alana: I didn’t apply. I was doing my semester abroad at Wesleyan, and I just said, let me take my Instagram more seriously because I just never posted. So I got really cute one day and posted a picture. Then I kept doing that, and I end up just getting the DM one day, and it was one of the casting producers. He asked, “Would you like to be part of this reality TV show?” I was just like, “Oh, you guys are trying to kidnap me. This is fake.” And he said, “No, this is real. Just take the phone call and we can move forward from there.” And then I realized that this was real.
Q: That’s really interesting, because now you have, what, 47,000 followers? So it seems like Instagram was really important before the show and it still is.
A: It’s something I’m really learning how to work because Instagram, truly, it’s a job. There’s so much money to be made on Instagram, it’s actually ridiculous. I’ve hung out with girls who have over 100,000, 200,000 followers. They get paid to afford their apartments and they get paid to go on trips, take photos. They get paid over $1,000 just [to] post a photo with a gadget; it’s really crazy.
Q: Have you been offered any of those deals?
A: Yes, I actually have.
Q: Have you done them?
A: Yes, actually I have because I’m trying to build my page up even more. I’m still trying to work on my career.
Q: While you’ve been at Bowdoin, you’ve released an EP and you’ve done performances, so you’ve really tried to keep that going, despite the fact that you’re in Maine. Going on Love Island, was that another way to try to get your name out there?
A: I think everyone knows that, going on a show, you’re going to get exposure. But also I went because it’s a new experience. Like, why wouldn’t you take the experience? I think, also, it wasn’t a hard question whether or not [to do] when they’re telling you you’re gonna go to a villa in Fiji with a bunch of hot guys.
Q: And try to find love?
A: Right? Clearly everyone knows from the show, I was introducing myself like, love here [at Bowdoin] is not working for me. You get exposure, you can get just a fun new experience, like a free trip [and then on] top of that you might really fall for somebody or somebody falls for you. This actually could work. So there was just so much possibility in it. I said, “Why not?”
Q: And you might get $50,000.
A: That too. You know, it’s funny. I always forget about that part. I really do. Luckily, I didn’t go up there for the money because I would have been very disappointed. You thought I was sad leaving? If I went in with that as my motive, oh, I’d be heartbroken.
Q: Did you ever consider not coming back to Bowdoin?
A: That was never an option. I was always going to come back to Bowdoin because I have a year left. In just nine more months, I’ll get my degree. I’m going to get this degree. But also, in media, they actually like when you have a degree, especially agencies, commercial agencies [and] modeling agencies. They like to know that you’re thinking [and that] your brain is working. Also I think having a degree from Bowdoin, it lets people know that you’re not to be messed with because you can handle yourself business-wise. They can’t pull it over you.
Q: How are you going to balance Bowdoin and what you’re doing on the weekends? Like this weekend, I know you’re going to Fashion Week in New York.
A: Well, now, what I’m going to do—if I’m not booked for something, because thankfully, I get booked for things—I’m going to be in class. I’m trying to do all my classes on Monday and Wednesday, so that Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I could keep that clear. So that if I do need to leave campus for a booking, I try to make sure I’m being booked so it happens toward the weekend. I’m trying to just keep my schedule as free as possible.
Q: What are you doing at New York Fashion Week?
A: I’m walking for two designers, and then I got invited to some red-carpet events and stuff. And that’s different because I’ve never done a red carpet before. So it’s my very first red carpet. I hope it’s the first of many. I’m also excited to see other celebrities I might be able to run into.
But now that the opportunity is there, it also puts me in another light where I can open up another avenue for myself to show that, hey, I have other things that I can do that may not be broadcasted because the music people can hear and people can watch performances. But now, modeling-wise, [I started that] before I even went to college, so you’d only know if you know me. So now I feel like I’m reintroducing myself. It’s kinda like Bowdoin when they got to see the music. You guys are really exclusive because, worldwide, people don’t know I do music or they’ve not really heard my stuff. So it’s funny. It’s like I’m now reintroducing myself through TV, and through modeling; now it can be really official because I have a platform for people to see.
Q: And music is still the end goal?
A: I wanna do it all. I wanna Jennifer Lopez it. I wanna Ariana Grande it. I wanna Rihanna it. I truly think there’s nothing that I can’t do, so I wanna do it. I don’t know how it’s gonna happen, but I’m gonna do it.
Q: Is there anything else you want Bowdoin students to know?
A: I think I would want people to know, I got more stuff on the way. Keep looking out for me, because this is not the last you’ll see of me. And I would also like to send the message [that] I’m no different than anybody else. When I say I’m no different than anybody else, if there’s anything you genuinely want to do, nothing’s too big and nothing’s too small. If you just believe it could happen, it’ll find a way to happen. And in terms of the show, yes, it came across me by accident. Really. Like, that’s not anything I went “out for. But I don’t think it was an accident. I think because I believed in it, and I believed in what I want to do for my future, that came along.
Even musically, I think about it. One day, I do want to perform for thousands of people. I want to sell out arenas. But, you know, it’s funny. You got to start somewhere. So even when I was doing performances on campus, in my head when I’m performing, I’d pretend it’s thousands of people. And you just keep doing that until one day, it’s gonna be thousands of people. But then I’m gonna remember back to when I had a room full of people, just one room, and see that progress. Really believe in yourself and use the resources that you have now. Nothing is too little and nothing is too big for you. That’s what I’m going to say.