Too Hot to Handle debuted about a month into lockdown and provided a much needed mental refuge that brought laughs and excitement into our sedentary lives. Among the cast, Aussie Harry Jowsey was a standout for his rebellious, often raunchy nature and has gone on to amass a millions-strong following.
Changing coats, Jowsey now lives in Los Angeles and has expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors to podcasting and dating app Lolly, among others. As the reality TV alum hits three years as an Angeleno, he reflects on his journey and opens up about life since Too Hot To Handle.
What was it like to watch Too Hot to Handle become so popular when all you could do was sit at home?
It was really weird. I spoke to my friends from Love Island and they're like, “Oh, did you do anything club tours?” We couldn't do anything! We didn't do anything, so it was really weird. The only way I can explain it is it's so crazy just watching your life change in front of your eyes and you can't do anything about it. I couldn't feel people's energy that they watch the show, they're excited about it. All I could see was my phone and my Instagram comments and stuff like that. So as soon as I turned my phone off, this crazy new world that didn't exist. My friends were still being the same to me, like no one was acting like crazy or weird or like the show was huge.
I think it was a blessing because it kept me a a little bit more grounded instead of getting washed away with it all.
Before Too Hot To Handle, you were on the New Zealand reality dating show Heartbreak Island. Was that a career move or did you want to take another stab at dating on television?
There's a few elements. I'd be silly to say that there wasn’t an element of this is going to benefit my career because I think anyone who goes on reality TV goes in with the expectation that they're going to gain some sort of social media following out of it. So that was obviously an element of it, but the reason why I went on Heartbreak Island was because I was dealing with the loss of someone very close to me who lost their battle with mental health. And I didn't know what to do. I was at university and I remember crying and I was like, “I just want to make my friends laugh. I just want to make people laugh.” And that's how I got on the first show. That was from that process, putting that sad energy into trying to make people laugh and make my friends laugh. It got me motivated and I remember watching the reactions and talking to people and feeling that even though I was an idiot on that show, they laughed at me.
I was like, “Well, if I can give people five or 10 minutes of just laughing,” that was the most fulfilling thing. And then after that, I was just like, “What do I do?” I want to make more people happy and I want to be able to give people something to laugh at and I just hope it’s myself, so that was how the second show came about because I was just applying for every single thing that I could see.
You started as an ambassador for the Gen-Z dating app Lolly, but have grown to be more hands on. How has your role evolved with the company?
Any business or anything I get involved in, I'm not really one of the people that just wants to sit around and wait to hear about updates. I'm a part of something, I'd rather be a part of it instead of just be the guy that that's that poses for photos. I learn so much from talking to people, especially people in a completely different field, like people in the tech field. I don't know anything about that. I don't even know how code works or anything like that, so talking to those guys and hearing how their brain works is exciting and motivating.
With Lolly, I was more of an ambassador, more of the face of it. Mark, who's the founder, we got a really, really close relationship and he's someone that I text almost daily. He comes to me for advice or he asks my opinion on things or in directions that we should move or it needs to be connected to different people to help the app move forward. Obviously I'm not doing a 9-to-5 with them, trying to figure out how to code and stuff like that, but it's instead of being an ambassador, it's more of being an adviser and help with the strategy as well.
I think that the video element adds so much value and it's something that I couldn't really imagine Tinder doing. I feel like they're stuck doing what they're doing. And I think it's just refreshing because you get new people in there and it's a different demographic.
Between Lolly, the tv shows and your podcast, what has been the most important thing you have learned about dating and relationships?
I think the biggest thing that I've learned is that if you're not happy, fix it or change it. And it's a lot easier said than done, but I find that a lot of people get complacent or just go with the flow and they don't give themselves time or love. People that have spoken to me that have had major issues with someone and just like stayed there— for example, this happened with my parents. My parents were,for the longest time, unhappy, but they were staying together because they thought it was benefiting me and my brother. But look, every day that you guys are together and not happy, you're taking away a day that you could be happy and having a good time, so eliminate that element and just be a happy old sausage instead.
I think the biggest thing, as well, is communication. It's a lot easier said than done, but learning to talk with your partner and learning to not get angry is such a useful skill. For me, even that takes time as well, like hearing constructive criticism from my girlfriend instead of getting grumpy at her.
You recently launched Dating Harry Jowsey. What was the most important thing you learned during your Tap In podcast that you’ve implemented with this new Spotify series?
I think the biggest thing I learned during Tap In is that when I turn my phone off for an hour and just talk to someone, I learn so much and I gain so much out of it as well, just feeling someone's energy and listening to them. It helped build my relationships so much better just hanging out with people, which has been amazing.
Dating Harry Jowsey is just so much fun. With the podcast, it’s not really structured. We just go with the flow. With Dating Harry Jowsey, we play games and we muck around a little bit. But it's made me really appreciate my audience a lot more because there's not many platforms or many places where you get the opportunity every single week for an hour just to hang out and like talk to people that support you. I think it's been really rewarding because I get to talk to people that support me and give them something, whether it's advice or a laugh. That makes me super happy.
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Congrats on signing with WME! What does it mean for you and your career that you’ve signed with one of the industry’s top agencies?
I was so surprised they signed me. I'm so grateful. I just think that my goals and my visions of the men that I want to become and the impact that I want to leave needs me to be a little bit more structured and needs more guidance because. At the moment, being an influencer and stuff is fun, but I don't think it's going to be the thing that's going to leave my legacy or help make more people laugh.
My end goal is to have the kind of feeling that you get when you look at a Will Ferrell movie or a Kevin Hart movie. When you turn that on and you're like, “I'm gonna watch this because it's gonna make me laugh.” That's my end goal and I think that the fact that they signed me means that maybe they see a lot of potential, hopefully, and they want to help me get to that goal.
Can you tell us more about your goal to be in a Marvel movie?
I'm gonna be honest. My best friend is the biggest Marvel nerd on the entire planet. And it's just been something that I want to do for him. I put it on my goal list because I want to be able to go on a red carpet one day and to a premiere with him and tell him all about Marvel. He is so infatuated by Marvel that he'll send me stuff and I think it's awesome, but I don't really care.
I love the movies and stuff, but he's insanely in love with everything about Marvel, so it's more so for him. I just want to be able to one day, get the opportunity to make him super proud and to be able to bring him to something like that. I took him to the Eternals premiere and I've never seen a grown man so giddy and smiley and excited about this. I was like, “It's a movie.” He's like, “It’s more than that. You don't get it.” It's just to make him and his family proud.
This interview has been edited and published.
Photography by: Tyler Patrick Kenny