Tyra Banks Questioned By Twitter Over Her Treatment Of 'America's Next Top Model' Contestants
Former ANTM participant Sarah Hartshorne confirmed the allegations: "$40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food."
December 02, 2021 at 6:22 pm
Tyra Banks is the latest subject to face the ire of Black Twitter, in regard to her former reality television show America's Next Top Model and how Banks, executive producers, and judges allegedly mistreated the contestants.
Twitter user @jiggyjayy2 sparked the conversation about Banks earlier this week by posting, "The fat that girls on ANTM were getting paid $40 an episode and Tyra and them judges were making BANK, is kinda sick."
The fact that girls on ANTM were getting paid $40 an episode and Tyra and them judges were making BANK, is kinda sick.— The Great Negro (@jiggyjayy2) November 30, 2021
Former ANTM participant from cycle nine, Sarah Hartshorne, confirmed the allegations when she reposted the tweet, "$40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food," Hartshorne wrote.
$40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food. https://t.co/lnclnbj2GZ— Sarah Hartshorne (@sarahhartshorne) November 30, 2021
When another person questioned Hartshorne on why she didn't just leave the show, the former aspiring model now turned stand-up comedian explained they were contractually bound to remain on the program. "You could break it but you couldn't just, like, walk out. There were handlers and security and lawyers who threatened us with million-dollar lawsuits if we didn't abide by the contract," she wrote.
Hartshorne's revelations quickly went viral, causing an intense debate online as to whether Banks should be heralded as an astute businesswoman or castigated as the villain for not adequately compensating the contestants on the show.
One supporter of Hartshorne, Twitter user @AdamantxYves, tweeted, “Tyra needs to be brought up on this. I’m tired of these ‘She’s a businesswoman’/’They were making a reality show’ excuses. There’s no justification for intentionally traumatizing and triggering young women for millions of dollars. I don’t care what they signed or ‘consented’ to.”
Tyra needs to be brought up on this. I'm tired of these "She's a businesswoman"/"They were making a reality show" excuses. There's no justification for intentionally traumatizing and triggering young women for millions of dollars. I don't care what they signed or "consented" to.— Platform Yves (@AdamantxYves) November 30, 2021
People continued to retrieve clips from the show to support their claims about Banks and how the show was rife with toxicity, like prejudiced language and exploitative practices that reflected the modeling industry, as reported by Vox.
Looking back, many elements of the show would not be able to air in the current cancel culture of today. At the peak of ANTM's popularity, the show deplorably handled race, women's sexuality and inclusivity.
Two examples occurred on the show in cycle 4 from 2005 and cycle 13 from 2009, when the wannabe models were told they would have to do photoshoots that included darkening their skin to portray different races.
Banks addressed these concerns in an interview in 2009 saying she did not intend to offend anyone.
"I’m sorry to anybody that watched Top Model and was offended by the pictures because they didn’t understand the real story behind them or even if you did see the whole episode and you were still offended, I truly apologize because that is not my intention," said the supermodel. "My intention is to spread beauty and break down barriers."
Throughout the show, Banks appeared to lack compassion toward the contestants. When one model in cycle 4 complained about how a male model inappropriately touched her, Banks was nonchalant and told the model that she needed to be more assertive in order to control the situation. In another instance in cycle 7, a model brought up the issue that she was matched with a racist male model, to which Tyra and her judging panel instructed her to find other ways to work with him. Banks and the show were also accused of weight shaming contestants, and overly scrutinizing a contestant named Danielle. Banks mocked her accent and the gap between her front teeth. Banks also told the young model that a gap would not be marketable, however, former model Lauren Hutton signed with Revlon in 1973, which was the most lucrative contract in modeling history at the time.
Many on Twitter did side with Banks, and wondered why Hartshorne would sign a contract that was not beneficial to her.
“If a contract was signed that said y’all could be sued and then y’all see what y’all was getting paid why sign it? I’m just saying because there’s no way you signed a contract about being sued and the amount of money y’all was getting wasn’t disclosed, ” inquired another person.
Many Twitter users also said they felt that Hartshorne should have taken advantage of the exposure the platform afforded her.
“A lot of them models had no experience right? So photos by some of the best photographers around, training from top models and industry insiders, a banging portfolio the longer you lasted on the show, free housing, and a $40.00/day meal stipend? Lol this sounds ok,” wrote another commentator.
Despite the consensus on how Banks treated the young women on her show, supporters felt that without the show, many of these aspiring models would not have the opportunities they have today.
“Twitters obsession with reducing Tyra Banks legacy is weird. It’s “we have to celebrate our Black women” until y’all see an opportunity to bandwagon & bring down Tyra. Is she perfect? No. But she brought a lot of girls opportunities that they would’ve never gotten before.”