Jay Manuel is spilling tea on what it was like to work with Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model. And some of the tea he's spilling is piping hot.
Jay is currently on a book tour. He's promoting his new novel “The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown,” which is loosely based on his time with ANTM.
And during the book tour, he's telling all kinds of people's business.
In a recent interview with Variety magazine, Jay explained what his relationship with Tyra is like now:
“Over the past few years, we’ve emailed,” Manuel says about Banks, recalling that the last time he saw her was a run-in at BeautyCon in 2017. “To be very honest, we really have no relationship to speak of, which is really sad. Our time together on ‘ANTM’ was amazingly productive and, at times, magical. We got to experience being part of a global phenomenon.”
Jay spoke about an alleged racist decision by ANTM head Tyra Banks to make the models paint their faces dark - or blackface - for a photoshoot.
He recalls times when he felt uncomfortable with creative decisions, such as the race-changing photoshoot in Cycle 4 where contestants painted their skin darker colors for a challenge on which Manuel was the creative director.
“Many times when you’re working in an environment like that, you have to listen to your executive producers, and ultimately the two voices at the top were Ken and Tyra. There were sometimes several objections by other producers and myself about layers that were added to creative, and we were just told to execute,” Manuel says. “I think it’s a little unfair to throw the whole team under the bus. The whole team wasn’t there on the front side when they were making decisions about the show in its heyday. The team wasn’t really supported, so to speak.”
And Jay suggested that the show (and Tyra) was also homophobic:
You were in the room when Tyra was talking to a gay contestant in Cycle 5, and suggested she shouldn’t put a spotlight on her sexuality. What do you recall about that moment?
I was in the room, and I was sitting right next to her. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable with the statement. . . I was confused by it because we ask these girls to come in the room and the producers remind the girls before they come in, “Tell them who you are. You’re not just a pretty face. You have to have a discussion about who you are.” These girls are coached to speak their truth and tell Tyra who they are, and then Tyra said that, so it seemed a bit unfair. You can see it on that model’s face, like, “Wait a minute, I was told to say everything about myself, and now you’re telling me to not say this?