Jay Manuel Says He's Not as Close to Tyra Banks Anymore: 'We Really Have No Relationship'
Jay Manuel worked with Tyra Banks for 18 seasons as the creative director on America's Next Top Model
In a recent interview with Variety, Manuel detailed some of his more "uncomfortable" experiences during his 18 seasons working as the creative director on the show, and how he hasn't maintained a close relationship with Banks, who served as host and executive producer.
"Over the past few years, we've emailed," Manuel, 47, said of staying in touch with Banks. "To be very honest, we really have no relationship to speak of, which is really sad."
Manuel revealed that the last time he saw the television personality was at BeautyCon in 2017 when the two coincidentally ran into one another.
While the two haven't kept in touch, Manuel told the outlet that he looks back on his time with Banks, 46, on ANTM as a special experience.
"Our time together on ANTM was amazingly productive and, at times, magical," he explained. "We got to experience being part of a global phenomenon."
Manuel is currently working on a book inspired by his time on ANTM entitled "The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown," set to be released on Aug. 3.
While the novel takes a satirical look at the reality show — referred to in the book as Model Muse hosted by supermodel Keisha Kash — Manuel admitted that he did not consult Banks or others from the series for their input.
Manuel also addressed recent criticism of Banks who has come under fire as ANTM clips resurfaced and were slammed for being insensitive and problematic. Recalling a challenge from Cycle 4 which asked contestants to "swap races," Manuel said that made him feel "so, so, so uncomfortable."
"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," he told Variety.
"I do think it's a little unfair for people to persecute Tyra now, especially because she has already taken heat for her past executive decisions in past years," Manuel said. "However, I can't really defend her either because when ratings were high and things were great, she remained a clear figurehead, because it was her show."
He continued, "Consistently, when s–t hit the fan and people wanted to talk about some of the things that were said on the show, we would have another singular EP come forward to claim that all creative decisions were made as the team, and I really wish that were the case, but that just simply is not true."
Banks later responded to the backlash on Twitter, agreeing that some of ANTM's past moments were "really off choices."
"Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs," she wrote in a tweet earlier this month.