Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hell

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Love Island
Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hell

Love Island winner Ekin-Su Culculoglu says she is still struggling to accept the “weird transition” from being bullied at school to winning a hit dating show as she prepares to start her latest TV venture.

The Turkish actress, 28, won over viewers on ITV ’s reality show with her fiery relationship with Italian business owner Davide Sanclimenti, who cheekily call themselves the “Turkish delight” and “Italian snack”.

Ekin-Su became one of the most talked about contestants on the summer series thanks to her balcony 'affair' with another islander, refusal to accept 'seasonal girlfriends' and for her many, many stormy rows with Davide, who famously yelled at her: “Actress, liar, get the f*** out.”

Opening up about her whirlwind five months after the show, Ekin-Su admits she finds fame 'overwhelming' after being isolated by bullies at school.

The star says she was 'a bit fat' as a child and didn't have many friends when growing up in Essex.

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Heartbreakingly, Ekin-Su recalled once being once pushed the stairs by a boy she fancied.

Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hellEkin-Su and Davide were crowned Love Island's winners earlier this year (Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

"I’m trying to adjust to how I go from being bullied at school to people loving me now. It’s just such a weird transition that I need to accept. In fact, I would say it’s overwhelming," she admitted.

She continued: “I think every confident person experiences something in their life which makes them confident.

“Those people are quite shy but have been through things like me, like their family divorcing, being bullied at school, not knowing who your real friends were at the time, not having people to speak to and feeling lonely and lost in life. I’ve had all of those experiences.

Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hellEkin-Su said she had a rough time in her childhood after swapping schools (@ekinsuofficial)

“I felt lonely for a long time until I realised that I’m my own best friend and don’t need anyone else.”

Ekin-Su, who will appear as a contestant on Dancing On Ice this month, spoke about the difficulties of changing schools when she moved from Islington to Essex at the age of 10.

The star said when she started in school in Essex she stood out from her peers as she didn't have designer shoes or bags.

"Everyone in my class had Gucci bags and Prada shoes,” she recounted.

Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hellEkin pictured at university (Lancashore Preston /Youtube)

“I thought the other girls looked quite tacky with their fake tan, thin eyebrows and pink lipstick, but when I rocked up with no make-up, a ponytail and a long skirt, my Clarks shoes and a Nike bag, I was considered the weird one.

“When I was about 12, I was a bit fat. I fancied this guy but he would never look at me. In fact he pushed me down stairs one day."

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Ekin-Su said she Googled how to lose weight and went on a punishing crash diet where she ate apples and skipped every day.

The actress, who studied performing arts at the University of Central Lancashire, later moved to Istanbul, where she was talent spotted and began appearing in TV soap operas before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Ekin-Su said she couldn't even leave her house because of police fines so spent her time reading books, meditating and recording monologues to pursue her acting career.

Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hellEkin-Su acted in a Turkish soap opera (Instagram)
Love Island's Ekin-Su 'pushed down stairs by crush' as she recalls bullying hellThe star said she's still finding it hard to accept her fame (Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

When the pandemic subsided, the actress said she became more determined than ever to 'find the right guy' and applied for ITV's Love Island.

Ekin said 'all her dreams came true' when she met Davide, with the couple still going strong months later.

Since winning the show the couple featured in a two-part travel spin-off programme for ITV2 titled Ekin-Su & Davide: Homecomings, which saw them return to their home countries Turkey and Italy.

Culculoglu will next star alongside professional ice-skater Brendyn Hatfield in ITV’s Dancing On Ice, which returns on January 15 at 6.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.

Lucy Needham

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