Tyra Banks is trending online – yet again – for her past behavior on the former hit show America’s Next Top Model.
The supermodel’s name began trending on social media when a series of clips resurfaced as a result of the show’s launch on Hulu.
In several of the videos, Banks and former host Janice Dickinson are seen mistreating or “exploiting” contestants in the earlier Cycles of the show.
Following the continuous backlash the show received due to the resurfaced videos, Baller Alert journalist Angie B caught up with ANTM alums Kathleeen Dujour and Eugena Washington to discuss the show’s impact, the information they should’ve known prior, and more.
Although the aspiring models seemingly lived a glamourous life on-screen — staying in fancy hotels and modeling in the top fashion shows — former contestant Kathleeen Dujour explained how things weren’t always what they seemed.
“It was more like a reality show because producers would tell us, ‘hey girls, we need more turn it on for the cameras,’” she said. “We were like puppets being played. The producers knew your deepest secrets. They knew what made you feel amazing, vulnerable, scared, and I believe they would use it against us.” The cycle eight contestant was one of the first models sent home and believed “it was a blessing.”
Working to gain recognition in the fashion world is a long, tedious task and ANTM helped models gain exposure, but at what cost? Former contestant Eugena Washington expressed how she suffered trauma from her experience on the show. “It used to be and sometimes still is difficult to look at myself in professional pictures and think they’re any good which is tragic because that’s my job,” said Washington. “But I think the real trauma is that it took away the passion for my dream before I could even make it come true.
Dujour also shared the same feelings of trauma from her time on cycle 8. “Once you get kicked off, you automatically feel like you’re not good enough to be a model. Hence why they automatically appoint you to see a therapist directly after,” she said.
Many show fans expressed disappointment towards the franchise, saying that the contestants were mistreated. Although it was “just business,” Washington and Juduor agreed that the judges were harsh but for a purpose. “I think they were harsh considering the majority of the girls were beginners to the modeling world,” said Dujour.
“Top Model was a TV show based loosely on the fashion industry. They had to get ratings to keep the show going. They had to create drama to get people to watch every week,” the cycle seven contestant said. “This was a job- and everyone had a job to do.”
Despite backlash and minor hiccups along the way, both alums agree that ANTM prepared them for the real world and are grateful for the experience. “I like to say now that “some people went to college to get their education- I went on Top Model,” said Washington. “I didn’t know back then, but it was definitely a crash course in all aspects of the entertainment industry. I was fortunate enough to learn early.”
“Failing publicly back then on national television made me want to be such a successful person today,” Judur said. “I definitely would do it again for the experience and exposure.”
Banks previously admitted that there were “a whole bunch of things” the show “messed up” while on air.
“I was trying to push boundaries but was also torn to try to make sure that these girls could work, so it was a balance,” the supermodel said during an appearance on The Tamron Hall Show in September 2020. “It was like, ‘Oh, break beauty barriers,’ but yeah, I can break them all I want on the show, but they’ll graduate from the show, and they won’t work.”
America’s Next Top Model premiered in 2003 and ran for 24 seasons.