Ovie Soko became an instant hit with Love Island viewers – as the smooth-talking basketball player who was always on hand to dispense sage advice to his fellow lovelorn contestants.
A year on from that show, the 29-year-old has since notched up a cool 2 million Instagram followers, an appearance on Celebrity Bake Off and has become a regular pundit on Sky Sports.
As he prepares to release an inspirational book, You Are Dope (£12.99, Quadrille Publishing, out Oct 1st), in which he explains how you can harness the power of his trademark positive thinking, we asked the social media star to explain how he always manages to practise self-love and self-respect.
Why did you decide to write a book on positive thinking?
“I’ve always wanted to give something back. I have a little journal that I keep and, way before I went on Love Island, I wrote down that I wanted to create a product that helps people to feel better about themselves.
“At the time, I didn’t know it was going to be a book, but I just believed that the opportunity would present itself. Then a year or two later I went into Love Island to a wild reception, which to this day I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Since then, I’ve been thinking, ‘Ok, how can I give something of substance back to people?’
“I didn’t want to create a book that was all about me, but I thought it would be nice to open up, let people in and share some of the lessons that I’ve learned in my life along the way.
“That’s a key reason why I made sure the book was interactive with plenty of space for the reader to jot things down, make notes and apply some of the mini lessons along the way. I want [people] to be able to pick out scenarios in their lives which they can relate to what I’m talking about, and hopefully grow from it.”
You’re known for your positive vibes on Instagram. How do you always manage to stay so happy and upbeat?
“I think your mindset is something you always have control of. Your perspective can make you limitless – it can make you indestructible.
“If you choose to see the silver lining in every situation, it means you will take something of benefit from it – regardless of how hard that might be. Training your perspective can really take you far in life.”
Do you have any tools that get you through tough times?
“I think you should always make sure that you’re taking time out for yourself – preferably in the morning. That way you can set the tone for the day.
“Another great tool is gratitude. When we forget to show gratitude for everything we have in life, we can easily forget how privileged we really are.”
The book talks a lot about overcoming worry and self-sabotage. Have you struggled with mental health issues in the past?
“I’ve definitely struggled with confidence and I’ve had my own little struggles with mental health – I think this is something that is increasingly becoming an issue and has been magnified by social media.
“[Social media] is really hard on your mind – it will almost force you into a room with millions of pictures of people’s perfect lives. It can make you feel like you’re not good enough, because you’re measuring yourself up to the perfect side of people’s lives that they want to show. You’re not being fair on yourself.”
Tell us, what does being ‘dope’ mean to you?
“I think being ‘dope’ is the ability for one to harness and realise the power and strength that they have in being exactly who they are. Realising that true fulfilment in this life means walking your own path.
“The journey will be different for everyone because we’re all supposed to walk our own unique journey. We’re not supposed to think about things the way that everyone else does. There’s power in that though, because you bring something that no one else has to the table.”