Jay Manuel Talks Tyra Banks & ‘ANTM’s’ Recent Backlash While Promoting His New Book Inspired By The Show

Jay Manuel attends the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 on September 10, 2013 in New York City.
Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Jay Manuel shared his feelings about Tyra Banks receiving negative comments from her time on America’s Next Top Model.

Fans of the popular modeling competition remember Manuel as the show’s creative director. During his appearances on ANTM, Manuel, also known as “Mr. Jay,” was in charge of all of the photoshoots for the model-hopefuls. He and J. Alexander, who was nicknamed “Miss J.,” often acted as guest judges on the series as well.

Since leaving ANTM after 18 seasons, Manuel shared with Variety that he completed a novel inspired by the show. His book, titled The Wig, The B*tch & The Meltdown, is a satire of things that transpired behind the scenes. The story focuses on a fictional reality show, Model Muse, which is hosted by character Keisha Kash. Manuel’s protagonist character, Pablo Michaels, navigates his fashion career and working on the show in New York City. Although the book has elements of ANTM in it, Manuel insists the characters are a combination of people he knows in real life.

Manuel’s book interview comes one week after social media users commented on Banks’ past actions on the CW series. Many people who rewatched the show on streaming services like Hulu and Amazon Prime pointed out several harsh words Banks said to her contestants. Most notably, she was bashed for telling Cycle 7 winner Danielle Evans that she needed to close her gap in order to be more marketable to the public. Since the backlash, Banks says she is embarrassed by some of the moments that aired on the competition. Fellow executive producer Ken Monk said the decisions weren’t only made by Banks and noted that the entire ANTM team was involved in the creative process.

When asked about the past comments from the series, Manuel claimed the end results for each episode were decided by Monk and Banks. He admitted he wasn’t always on board with some of the remarks and scenarios the contestants had to go through.

“Ultimately, the two voices at the top were Ken and Tyra,” Manuel recalled. “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.”

He then added that while he does think Banks is being treated unfairly by the public for the things she said in the early 2000s, he doesn’t feel the need to defend her. Manuel then pointed out Banks rarely took responsibility for her actions and would place blame on the show’s entire staff. However, she remained a “figurehead” and took credit for creating the show back when it was must-see television.

After a long run on ANTM, Manuel left the series in 2012. He said he parted ways with the show to focus on his own career. Manuel claims he hasn’t spoken to Banks since his exit, but they sometimes email one another.