The global pandemic has a lot of people rewatching reality TV series as a way to pass the time and, while it’s definitely a solid source of entertainment, it’s showed us that some shows just haven’t seemed to age well.
Case in point: America’s Next Top Model.
Clips from earlier seasons of the modeling competition show recently resurfaced on social media and, last week, fans and former contestants were criticizing Tyra Banks, the show’s creator/head judge, for assigning cruel stunts for the contestants to do, encouraging racist photoshoots (including one featuring a girl in blackface makeup), and more.
About a week after the clips circulated on social media, Tyra has finally spoken out.
One of the scenes grabbing the most negative attention comes from ‘ANTM’ Cycle 6 in which Tyra encouraged contestant Danielle “Dani” Evans to have dental surgery to close the gap in her teeth, despite Dani’s wish to keep her gap. During the scene, Tyra tells Dani that she’s “not marketable” unless she has the procedure — something Dani ultimately compromised on.
The scene grabbed the attention of E!’s Nina Parker, who revealed that it made her feel “extremely discouraged to be on TV” upon seeing it at the time, being that she also has a gap in her teeth.
“I remember watching this as a young woman & I felt extremely discouraged to be on TV bc of this scene,” she tweeted. “I was disappointed in Tyra then… She ended up pressuring this girl to get dental surgery to be ‘marketable.’ Also my gap & TV contract say HI!”
I remember watching this as a young woman & I felt extremely discouraged to be on TV bc of this scene. I was disappointed in Tyra then… She ended up pressuring this girl to get dental surgery to be “marketable.” Also my gap & TV contract say HI! https://t.co/FYfvETcpkP
— Nina Parker (@MzGossipGirl) May 5, 2020
In response to the 15-year-old video going viral, Dani responded on Instagram in a lengthy video in which she revealed that she went on ‘ANTM’ to get out of Little Rock, Arkansas. As for “Gap-Gate,” Dani explained that she was “basically set up” by production and never told that Tyra wanted her to have her gap closed while she was at the dentist.
“So in that moment, the 19-, 20-year-old Danielle stood there realizing it was my one-way ticket out on this side or keeping my gap on this side and going back to Little Rock, Arkansas,” she said. “Whatcha think I’m gonna choose, fam?”
Dani went on to detail how she and Tyra came to a compromise on her dental procedure. She ended her video by encouraging others to be reminded of their own self worth.
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This video isn’t made for unsolicited advice, words, or paragraphs on how YOU would have handled the situation. I’m speaking MY truth aside from anyone’s opinions, beliefs, or input. I chose to use my own platform to speak so I have full control over my narrative. Watch until the very end to understand the purpose as to why I took time to even address the matter. 🤍
Unfortunately for Tyra, the controversial ‘ANTM’ scenes didn’t end with Dani’s. During one cycle of the show, Tyra required the models to take part in a bi-racial photoshoot that involved blackface. Another clip from Cycle 4 that outraged fans showed contestants taking part in a “7 Deadly Sins” photoshoot in a graveyard that placed them in coffins. Naturally, this photoshoot assignment came immediately after contestant Kahlen Rondot had just learned that her friend from back home had passed away.
(It’s worth noting that Kahlen was offered the option to sit out for this particular photoshoot; however, she decided to participate.)
In response to being called out for a number of the questionable photoshoots and comments she made to contestants during the show’s run, Tyra issued an apology on social media.
“Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ‘ANTM’ moments and I agree with you,” Tyra wrote. “Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.”
Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you. Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs. ❤️
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) May 9, 2020
Tyra’s apology was met with mixed reviews on Twitter, with some people feeling underwhelmed by Tyra’s lukewarm words.
“This…wasn’t an apology. This is just saying ‘oh yeah those things happened’ without acknowledging WHAT happened and APOLOGIZING to all of the contestants that were screwed over/harassed,” one person wrote.
“This is simply not enough. You really crushed numerous girls’ spirits playing with lives like it was [the game The] Sims,” another wrote.
“You needs to be more specific. This isn’t an apology! In Cycle 6 you not only asked Danielle to close her gap tooth, you almost sent her home TWICE for her Southern accent bc it wasn’t ‘professional,'” another person reminded Tyra. “In later cycles, you actually wanted a white girl to WIDEN her gap tooth.”
Others acknowledged that these clips were filmed over a decade ago, and stated that Tyra’s actions and words in the early 2000s should not be held to the current standards.
“People…trying to cancel someone over clips that where 10 plus years ago. Like, what she said wasn’t right but that was 10 plus years ago,” one person wrote in response to Tyra’s apology tweet. “Like please y’all need to stop trying to be so damn ‘woke’ about everything.”
“@tyrabanks you don’t even have to apologize,” another person responded. “It was a different time AND for entertainment value!”
Dani is not the first former ‘ANTM’ contestant to speak out against the show and Tyra. In a series of 2017 blog posts, Cycle 1 winner Adrianne Curry blasted those associated with the show, stating that she never received the prizes that were promised to the winner of her season, including a coveted contract with Revlon cosmetics. She also claimed she was not paid for work she did, and that Tyra refused to respond to her when Adrianne tried to reach out to her for help.
“You win a big prize on national television and you never get it,” Adrianne wrote in the now-deleted blog posts. “Even if you get over it, as I have….it will always be something you bring up in your life…I won one of the biggest television competitions in the world and never got my prize….I took every opportunity to let press know I was never paid or given my prize. I’d talk s**t about Tyra just to do it… Revenge was sweet. I talked mad s**t that I wouldn’t do now. I was a kid.”
Watch some of the controversial clips in question below!
(Photos: Instagram Twitter; UPN)