Love Island urged to drop contestant Anton Danyluk over blackface photo

'I find blackface extremely offensive and there’s no place for it in any situation,' says former Islander Marcel Somerville

Sabrina Barr
Monday 03 June 2019 10:46 BST
Love island unveils contestants for it's fifth series

ITV has been urged to remove Anton Danyluk as a contestant on this year's Love Island after a picture emerged of him wearing blackface at a party.

In the photograph, found by The Sun on the Facebook page for his gym The Ranch, the 24-year-old gym owner is dressed up as former professional wrestler Mr T.

The picture shows Danyluk wearing a mohawk cap, dungarees, gold chains and face paint which he's used to darken his skin.

Several people expressed their disgust over the unearthed picture, calling on Love Island to remove Danyluk from this year's series.

"If I see Anton on the show this week I will be p****d off because blackface should not be condoned at all," one Love Island viewer tweeted.

"#LoveIsland are proper scraping the barrel this year... proud cheat and actual racist who parties in blackface? Yeahhh let's make this guy famous," someone else wrote.

"So Love Island can't have a fat person but they accept someone that does blackface," another remarked, referencing the criticism Love Island has received over its lack of body diversity.

Marcel Somerville, who starred on Love Island in 2017, has led the criticism towards the Scot for his "extremely offensive" behaviour.

"Blackface isn't just about painting one's skin darker or putting on a costume. It invokes a racist and painful history," Somerville wrote in a post shared on his Instagram story.

Anton Danyluk

"The origins of blackface date back to the minstrel shows of mid-19th century. White performers darkened their skin with polish and cork, put on tattered clothing and exaggerated their features to look stereotypically 'black'.

"The performances were intended to be funny to white audiences. But to the black community, they were demeaning and hurtful."

Somerville added that he thinks those in charge of Love Island should inform the other contestants of Danyluk's blackface picture.

"It doesn’t matter if you are dressing up as Mr T ‘for a laugh’ or pretending to be Al Jolson, there’s never an excuse for it. I find blackface extremely offensive and there’s no place for it in any situation," the former member of Blazin' Squad told The Sun.

“The Love Island bosses vet all contestants, but they must have missed this picture in his social media feed or they probably wouldn’t have let him on the show.”

Television personality Mr T in Melbourne, Australia on 23 July 2008

In the lead-up to the beginning of the new series on Monday 3 June, the Mental Health Foundation has released new statistics revealing the impact reality television can have on viewers who feel insecure about their bodies.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov, one in four 18 to 24-year-olds say watching reality television makes them feel worried about their bodies.

"Millions of people enjoy Love Island for a whole range of reasons. Our concern is how the programme projects body images that are not diverse, largely unrealistic and presented as aspirational," Dr Kousoulis, director of England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, said.

In statement sent to The Independent by ITV, Danyluk's mother said: "Given that Anton has no right to reply, I wanted to take the opportunity to assure everyone that my son, who himself is mixed heritage, is not a racist.

"As his mother I know he would be mortified to be labelled in such a way, and would wholeheartedly apologise to anyone offended by this picture.

"There was absolutely no racist intent and almost six years down the line, I know it's not the way Anton would ever behave today."

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