- Jay Manuel opened up about being “scared to speak up” during problematic moments on America’s Next Top Model.
- Jay said he was “so, so, so uncomfortable” with a Cycle 4 episode where “the girls had to swap races.”
As anyone who faithfully watched America’s Next Top Model knows, the iconic show sometimes bordered on offensive and problematic—and creative director Jay Manuel is opening up about his take on it.
During an interview with Variety, Jay said he was “scared to speak up” during particularly iffy ANTM episodes and referenced specific moments that made him uncomfortable—including when Tyra discouraged contestant Kim Stolz to speak freely about being gay. “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?”
And then there was the Cycle 4 photo shoot where contestants had to “swap races,” which Jay says he was completely not on board with:
“It was very uncomfortable for me, in Cycle 4, it was a photo shoot where the girls had to swap races,” he said. “I was so, so, so uncomfortable with this. I was never scripted for my intros or anything, and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to set this up—I was so afraid that I would wear this because I was the creative director, but it was not my idea. That swapped race was a layer added in. It was supposed to be a different concept. I remember that very, very clearly. I was basically told that I had to execute the creative, and it made me very uncomfortable.”
Tyra recently addressed the resurfaced ANTM clips and admitted to making some questionable choices, saying, “Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you.”
FYI, Jay and Tyra are no longer in touch, which isn’t exactly a shocker!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.