Fans of America’s Next Top Model know that Tyra Banks and Jay Manuel have a long and complicated history. For many years, that history was kept mostly under wraps. That was until a recent “Chicks in the Office” podcast saw Jay spill the tea about him and Tyra.
From Friendship To Friction
Jay and Tyra enjoyed a close friendship for many seasons. But Jay became increasingly dissatisfied with his position in the show. It all came to a head in Cycle 8 when Jay’s contract expired. He felt his role in the show had lost importance over the years, and he had issues with certain shoots. “By the time I finished my contract (…) I was ready to move on,” he said. Tyra didn’t take his decision too kindly and was quick to express her disappointment.
Afterward, their relationship was irreparably changed. According to Manuel, Tyra’s demeanor and treatment towards him changed, both on and off the show. He felt she effectively cut him off at this time. Sadly, this was only the beginning.
A Decade Under Wraps
Despite this marked friction, Jay Manuel would go on to participate in America’s Next Top Model for another full decade. It was a tense and uneasy situation, beginning two weeks into the production of Cycle 9. Producers reached out after struggling to recast his part.
Jay was out of town, so the studio contacted his lawyer, requesting him to come back for one more cycle. Upon learning of the situation, Manuel didn’t want to put the studio in a tough position. Eventually, Jay would slide into a new contract, which would go on to see him through ten more seasons. It was quite difficult, though, as the work environment and culture had shifted considerably. He never quite felt comfortable again, but his contract prevented him from speaking about it.
Nevertheless, during the podcast interview, Jay stressed that he will always speak of Tyra in a positive light. For him, Tyra is a truly iconic fashion figure, and he has tremendous respect for her cultural contributions through ANTM. While Jay admits that their relationship “isn’t what it was,” he insists that he “will always speak positively about [Tyra].” Jay stated that he respects “everything that she represents,” as well as her history as a trailblazer, powerful woman, and role model.
Jay also pointed out that Tyra is incredibly inspiring to countless “Brown and Black girls and boys in the industry.” That’s why he’d never dream of speaking about her in negative terms, regardless of their personal history. He also clarified that Tyra has since admitted her faults and apologized for her past behavior.