Love Island USA 's Kassy on her connection with Johnnie and ending up with Leo

Love Island USA
Love Island USA

Sara Mally/PEACOCK Kassandra Castillo

Kassandra Castillo ended up with her Day 1 boo, Leo, in the finale — but the journey in between Love Island USA season 5's first and last episodes was a doozy.

Leo pursued Kassy's friend in the villa, Anna, and then after they reunited, Leo slept with Casa Amor bombshell Johnnie. Meanwhile, Kassy connected with Matia during Casa Amor, and then found a romantic spark with Johnnie after both women decided to cut ties with Leo. But ultimately, Kassy and Leo left the villa in a relationship.

Just days after leaving the villa, the season 5 runner-up spoke to EW about her time in Fiji and those love triangles.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: From the viewers' perspective, there was such a change between when you were in the triangle with Anna and Leo to everything that happened after Casa Amor. Did you feel a shift in your journey or experience in terms of how you handled things at the start compared to later on? 

KASSY: There was a huge shift. I learned so much from the beginning of the season to Casa. In the beginning, I was just not really worried about anybody's opinions, but later on I had the support of the girls. I also decided to not repeat my same patterns from relationships in the outside world. After Casa, I'd had enough and I had self respect, which was the key.

What's your secret to navigating being in the villa with Leo, Johnnie, and Matia successfully?

Talking to anybody else to keep myself occupied from seeing Leo, Johnnie, and Matia. I would go talk to Kay Kay or Carmen to ask for advice or for time away from all three of them. It was a big villa, so I didn't have to be too close to [them] and I could separate myself, but [sometimes] I would talk to one of them and another was less than 200 feet away.

You and Leo are happy and together now, but looking back, how difficult was it to walk into the villa after Casa Amor?

I had so many things I wanted to say in my head. I'm not very good at expressing my feelings, so I remember using lip liner to write down little notes of what I wanted to say to Leo because I was worried about me bringing somebody into the villa. In my head, I thought he was going to be alone. That's the scenario I was preparing myself for. When I walked in, whatever was in my head disappeared and it was anger, disappointment, and sadness all balled up in one.

Deciding to explore your connection with Johnnie on TV was bold and inspiring. Were you nervous about doing it publicly?

I was nervous at first because I was still figuring out my feelings. I found her attractive and I knew it could have been a potential connection because we were always flirting and the conversations were different than with the rest of the girls. I didn't know how she was going to respond either, but I owed it to myself to explore any possible connections. I also forgot that I was on television, so in that moment I just went where my heart was taking me.

You choosing to reunite with Leo is a choice that viewers have varying opinions on. Is there anything you want to say about why you chose to end up with Leo?

I chose Leo because I thought about who I'd be really sad about if they left the villa that night. I would have been more sad about Leo leaving because I truly loved the guy in that moment. I liked the version of myself I was with Leo. I was my best self. I chose someone who I truly care about and that I can see a future with. It was different with Johnnie and Leo, but I kept gravitating to him. I kept hanging out with my best friend.

Love Island USA
Love Island USA

Sara Mally/PEACOCK Leonardo Dionicio, Kassandra Castillo

Do you plan to watch the show back?

Right now I don't plan on it, but I'll probably watch the last two episodes because those were happy episodes. There's no drama in those, but I'm too nervous to watch the rest.

You should see the heart rate challenge. 

The challenges! Yeah, I might watch them because I know those are really fun.

How has it been adjusting to not have cameras around you or mics on all day?

Once [Leo and I] left, we were in a hotel room together and I remember us whispering then we looked down and remembered we don't have mics on anymore. When we woke up the next morning we were so happy to be out because we didn't have to hold anything back and we could just be honest with one another knowing we had our privacy.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Related content: