Love Island USA fans were devastated to learn that winning couple Zeta Morrison and Timmy Pandolfi had officially split last week, just five months after season four of the reality dating series came to an end.
The separation made further headlines thanks to Zeta’s podcast interview with YouTuber Murad Merali in which she detailed how previously unknown issues with both Timmy and his sister, Naomi Pandolfi, played a part in the pair’s decision to call it quits.
During the lengthy chat, Zeta, 29, claimed to have had an ‘unpleasant’ first meeting with Naomi, and claimed that her ex’s sister had told him to ‘pick a dark-skinned girl because America loves that’ before he went into the villa.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com in response to Zeta’s description of their limited encounters, Naomi, 33, confirmed that she did make the comment to her brother but denied it had been made with malicious intent.
Clap back: The sister of Love Island winner Timmy Pandolfi has spoken out in response to an explosive interview by his ex, Zeta Morrison
‘I do remember telling my brother to pick a Black girl but it wasn’t as some kind of way to play the system or a game plan. It was more in solidarity because I want to see Black girls of any shade on screen,’ she explained.
‘That’s part of what I do for work almost every day. I work with a company that promotes creators from marginalized communities and helps them pitch concepts and ideas to the people who are able to get that made.’
Naomi stated that she did reveal her comment during a meeting with Timmy, 29, and Zeta – known as ‘Zimmy’ by fans – in which the pair were discussing business opportunities they were hoping to capitalize on after leaving the show.
She claimed that she had been brought into the call – which she described as ‘pleasant’ – due to her previous work within the film industry.
The social media manager was quick to dismiss insinuations that have since been made by fans that she is colorist as she explained: ‘We were discussing women in film, people of color and dark-skin women in particular, because Zeta had mentioned she came to Love Island USA because she didn’t think someone dark-skinned could win Love Island UK, which was a surprise to me.’
She continued: ‘To me, what makes a Black woman beautiful is her Blackness. That’s not something that I would ever express in a negative light.’
Naomi explained she had been ‘hurt’ and ‘shocked’ to later learn that Zeta had taken the comments to heart.
Happier times: The former couple were were crowned winners in the season four finale on August 28
Supportive: Naomi admitted telling her brother to go for a dark-skin girl, but denied saying it as a way to play the system on the show
She stated: ‘That comment in the interview actually is the one that hurt me the most. My mom is dark-skinned, and my parents were an interracial couple before it was cool. We actually experienced a lot of hate. I saw a lot of prejudice and the things that my mom went through, up close and personal, and that’s not something I would ever want anybody else of any complexion to feel.’
Naomi stressed: ‘Had I known that that was something that she took to heart and was offended by, which is incredibly unfortunate, I would have immediately apologized. That’s not the way I want to make anybody feel.’
The creative director also admitted feeling surprised by Zeta’s description of their interactions due to the fact they had been focused on business.
She explained: ‘We met in the beginning in September 2022. That’s the last and only time I spoke with her directly. We weren’t in communication beyond October 1.
‘It’s always hurtful when someone says meeting you was unpleasant. It wasn’t for me. We were discussing things that ‘Zimmy’ could do together. Zeta mentioned wanting to get into film and I have a background in that so I wanted to help her make connections.’
She added: ‘I had no idea the interview was happening. I hadn’t anticipated that it would be discussing me, especially since I am very far removed from the situation and I didn’t have much contact with Zeta. I was shocked by the comments and the interview.’
Former lovers: Naomi has also claimed that the duo ended their romantic relationship in October 2022, months before announcing their split to the public
Naomi also claimed that the revelations Zeta made in her interview had been confusing because ‘Zimmy’ were ‘no longer in a romantic relationship’ by October last year.
This was the reason why the writer did not make efforts to meet up with Zeta and her family members when making a trip to London with Timmy around that same time.
‘It wasn’t like my brother was going out to see his girlfriend because, obviously, if that was the case, I would have met his girlfriend and her family,’ she explained. ‘He was going out to work with a friend and I don’t normally hang out with my little brother’s friends.’
Elsewhere, Naomi praised the reality star, adding: ‘I liked her, she was intelligent, motivated and knew what she wanted to do to monetize and capitalize on this big win. I was happy for another woman of color to be so prevalent in the media.’
The writer again expressed her disappointment at Zeta’s retelling of the meeting as she stated: ‘I didn’t think we knew the other well enough for us to be discussing each other’s character.’
Disagreements: Zeta previously revealed that Timmy had wanted to announce their split with a statement, but she chose to discuss it in a solo interview instead
Issues: The reality star listed multiple occasions in which she believed behaviors exhibited by her ex, and his sisters, left her upset
Since Zeta’s interview with Murad went live, passionate fans have since been quick to share their feelings on Naomi’s Instagram which the writer has found difficult to deal with.
‘It’s been rough, I have to say,’ she began. ‘I have had to archive a lot of my photos because Zeta’s fans were finding and commenting to people I had worked with in the past, as well as family members. That’s been challenging.
Naomi continued: ‘There has also been threats to show up at my house and my family’s house. It’s not at all something I am enjoying, or want to continue in any way.’
She added: ‘At this point, I’ve been advised not to reach out to her. I’m a private citizen. I’m not a public figure.
‘I just feel that she used her standing as a public person to attack my family, in a sense. After all the things that she’s said and how she mentioned about my family, all things she’s alluded to, I feel now that she never cared for Tim… because I know him as a person and I know how he treated her.’
Her side of the story: During her chat with Murad Merali, Zeta detailed all the issues ‘Zimmy’ faced after leaving the Love Island villa
Speaking about the split to Murad, Zeta has claimed that things took a turn for ‘Zimmy’ after the show ended and the pair left the Love Island USA villa.
‘Timmy and I are no longer together, so there’s no more ‘Zimmy.’ We’re no longer together, and the storyline is really what I would like to get out because I truly give about my fans and my supporters,’ Zeta explained.
‘Sydney, Deb and I, we rode back to L.A. together on the train,’ she said. ‘We’re on the train—Syd and Isaiah are texting, Deb and Jesse texting, carrying a vibe. And I’m just sat there and Timmy and I are not texting at all.’
The show was filmed in Santa Barbara, California, though Morrison revealed in the interview that after filming wrapped, Timmy didn’t offer her a ride back to L.A. when his roommate drove up to pick him up, which she said, ‘felt strange.’
She added he was very ‘spacey’ with texting during his week in New York and he set up a meeting with his sister while he was gone.
‘My meeting with his sister was not something I enjoyed,’ Zeta said bluntly, adding, ‘I didn’t like what was said at the meeting but I just kind of played along with it,’ she said.
Moving on: The pair’s relationship was unable to flourish after the pair walked away with their $100,000 prize money
She added they were ‘good’ when he got back from New York but she still felt a ‘disconnect with him.’
‘I feel like your person should be the person who gasses you more than the public and your family and everyone,’ Zeta shared.
‘They just want to lift you up all the time and just see you be your best self, and I felt like he was like, ‘You get enough of that from everyone else, so you don’t need it from me.’ But that’s who I wanted it from,’ she added.
Timmy addressed the split in a video on his Instagram story on January 23 where he said, ‘She would say, ‘Even if we’re just in each other’s lives, I care about you that much as a person.’
”It doesn’t matter if this romance never progresses. I just want you in my life. We can focus on this business. I want the best for you.”
DailyMail.com has contacted representatives of Zeta Morrison for comment.