Holly Scarfone is one of the many singles who joined Season 3 of Netflix’s wildly popular reality show Too Hot to Handle. The 23-year-old is a psychology student from North Bay, Ontario, and also works as a model. For the uninitiated, the so-called “horniest show on TV” requires contestants to resist all the temptations related to getting intimate with one another for a grand prize of $100,000 at the end. Any time someone breaks the rules, the entire prize fund gets reduced.
Scarfone certainly wasn’t the most frugal on the show, as she couldn’t seem to keep her hands off fellow contestant Nathan Soan Mngomezulu, each time reducing the prize money for the entire cast. In one instance, they lost the group $69,000 (nice) after one kiss. The group wasn’t too pleased with this couple’s intimacy. However, Holly and Nathan managed to win it the funds back by displaying their maturity and growth as a couple. (Character development? On reality TV? In this economy? Better believe it.)
Interestingly, Too Hot to Handle has enjoyed immense success over the last two years, ever since making its debut in April 2020 when lockdown had everyone self-isolating and binge-watching. The show’s guilty-pleasure formula seems to be working—not only has Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos hailed it as the streamer’s “biggest competition show ever,” but it was just renewed for a fourth season.
We caught up with Holly to discuss the show, the lessons she learned on it, and her favorite Toronto spots.
Congratulations on Too Hot to Handle! What made you want to join the show? I heard that you were offered Love Island as well but you had turned it down?
Well, thank you for the congratulations. It’s been wonderful. It’s been such a crazy journey. I did get offered to do Love Island, actually. But that was a couple years ago; I think when they were just coming out with Season 1. And at the time, I think I was like, 20, maybe 21. And I don’t know, it just wasn’t in the stores for me. I guess I really contemplated it for a while. And I just don’t think I was there mentally. And I mean, I had an amazing time on Too Hot to Handle, I’m so glad that I feel like everything really happens for a reason. And I really abide by that. So I’m glad everything worked out the way it is. I was a little bit older, wiser. And with everything with COVID going on, I think I was more open to experiences, and yeah, I just kind of went for it.
What was your audition process like?
So, it’s so funny. I don’t even really watch reality TV shows, to be honest, admittedly. But I didn’t send in an audition. I was contacted via Instagram for a show called Pleasure Island. And it was a new concept, and it just sounded really cool. I was told I was going to be floating around to different islands and meeting people and partying and enjoying the sun. So I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
What were your expectations going into the series?
Yeah, so I had no idea. I really came in with an open mind. I mean, admittedly, I went there thinking I was gonna party and have a good time, and it’d be in a luxurious boat. But clearly, that’s not how everything went down. But I just went in with an open mind. I think that’s just something you should do in general in life, is just go into experiences with an open mind and open heart and just go for it.
“I think when people think of reality TV, they think of drama or dating, or whatever lifestyle, but there’s an element of self-progression.”
So then in what ways did the show surprise you after your time on it?
Um, you know, what the whole concept of the show was just brilliant. Like, the whole thing just surprised me. I studied psychology. So it’s kind of interesting to see when you stick a bunch of people in like a villa, to see how they interact. And then, you know, there’s money on the line, and you are faced with this dynamic of progressing yourself as a human, as an individual, but also doing that as a collective, so there’s so many dynamics at play. And I think that’s just what makes the show so brilliant. Yeah, I mean, that’s what surprised me, and also the amount of growth that I did on the show. Like, I think when people think of reality TV, they think of drama or dating, or whatever lifestyle, but there’s an element of self-progression. And you know, that we had workshops, I just thought, I mean, it’s just fascinating. It was wonderful.
What was it like being a Canadian contestant even though you’re currently studying in the States?
So it’s interesting. I think that’s the coolest thing about the show is everyone’s from different parts of the world. So when you see someone else from your country you kind of like you can form an alliance, right? So Obi, even though we had our differences, because he was so strict about the money and I was going with my heart, we have such a strong friendship, and especially because we’re both Canadian, right? I’m happy to represent Canada and it’s so cool when people reach out to me and are like, “You’re from the same town [I’m from]” or, “Oh, you’re Canadian,” and, you like connect with people on that level. It’s a little bit more personal. So you know, that’s great.
What attracted you to Nathan?
Okay, well, I mean, at first, it’s hard to explain, like, of course, he’s just beautiful, he’s just gorgeous. But in general, just the way that he carried himself around me. I just, it was something different for me. And that immediately attracted me to him, and just his choice of words, his way of doing things, I was really attracted to. So he’s a package deal, you know what I mean?
Did you think the show changed your love life when it comes to understanding people?
Oh my gosh, like, my life has done a complete 180 in the lens of relationships, not only with myself, but also with other people. And 100 percent, the workshops did wonders. I mean, now, I don’t know, I was a different person when I first got on the show. And so it’s actually really interesting watching back a year ago, how I was and how I progressed throughout the show, but also a year afterwards. I feel like I have like a stronger respect for myself. And people around me, you know? Obviously, I had that before, but it’s still progressing. And, you know, it’s getting stronger each and every day, which is great. But, yeah, I mean, it’s changed everything.
What were some of your favourite moments when you were filming the show?
OK, some of my favorite moments actually were caught off camera. One of my favorite things is that we were always singing. Our cast was super close-knit, which I’m so thankful for. But because we didn’t have our phones, and we were just completely immersed and we’re just such a bubbly group of people. We would be getting ready, right, and someone would be singing; everyone would just like jump in and it was just that kind of like bonding that just really sticks out to me. So that and also, there was another moment where we were all gathered on the deck. And it was the end of filming and we were all just cuddled up in blankets as a collective as a cast. And Patrick was just like freestyling on his guitar and he was going one by one and singing about Nathan and I, and, you know what I mean? It was just wonderful.
“My advice would be don’t eat too much because you’re going to be in a bikini or swimwear. And then to represent our country because, you know, Canadians are friendly; we kind of get along with everyone.”
Given a do-over, would you do anything differently?
My life motto is like, live with no regrets. And so, can’t regret anything that I’ve done. And so looking back, definitely it was hard for me to watch myself break all the rules, because I was like, ‘I could have done better here, there,’ whatever. It’s easy to nitpick yourself, but I really was just going with my heart and soul. And that’s just where I was at and it really helped me build a relationship with Nathan. So I can’t regret any of those rule breaks. It’s always a learning experience and yeah, live with no regrets, man. Just go for it and see where it takes you.
What would you what is your advice for the new contestants in the future?
My advice would be don’t eat too much because you’re going to be in a bikini or swimwear. And then to represent our country because, you know, Canadians are friendly; we kind of get along with everyone. But just have fun, be yourself. I’m sure it’ll be amazing and hit me up because I am like always down to hang out with my fellow Canadians.
So you’re originally from North Bay. What are some of your favorite places in Toronto?
I’m from like a little tiny town called North Bay. And, yeah, I mean, it’s great. Those are my roots. So I’ve only spent a little bit of time in Toronto just because I moved out when I was younger. But I had the pleasure of like spending New Year’s in Toronto, at the Queens Harbour. I think that’s where I stayed. I love the Eaton Center and shopping, so I mean, that’s one of my favorite places to hang out. Toronto is just a magical city, right? There’s so much to do. There’s nightlife, there’s food. Drake’s from Toronto, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and like, does it get much better than that?
Now that the series has ended, what are your plans now for life after reality TV?
I am just living my life as I just always do. But you know what, you’re just gonna have to stay tuned. I’ve got some really exciting projects coming up. So I’m so excited to share that with everyone. So yeah, stay tuned.