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America's Next Top Model's Jay Manuel Reveals Why He Really Left the Show & Addresses Tyra Banks Backlash on Social Media

Jay Manuel is speaking out.

The 47-year-old former America’s Next Top Model judge, who left the show after Cycle 18, spoke out about the show and former co-star Tyra Banks in an interview with Variety on Wednesday (May 13).

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Jay Manuel

“When we parted ways, I had already completed my contract after Cycle 18 with no plans to return for Cycle 19, and that’s something that people don’t know. It was 100% my decision to leave the show, as I was ready to move my career in a different direction, but unfortunately at the time, my departure was misreported to the press, and contractually, I could not speak about leaving the show. Now, I can speak about it, so I can be clear that my departure from the show was one of choice,” Jay said of leaving the show.

“My primary focus was shifting my career. But, initially when the show started, creatively, it was just a conversation between Tyra and myself. As the show grew and big sponsors came on board, everyone felt the pressure now to build the ratings, so then everyone was adding layers to these shoots and taking it away from realistic fashion challenges, which became increasingly difficult for me because I had to juggle what the sponsor wanted and what production wanted for TV ratings and also create the creative, so it just became very difficult to manage. By the time I finished with Cycle 18, there was just so much more I needed to do with my career and I wasn’t offering anything new to the show, at that point.”

He also addressed the recent social media backlash that Tyra has faced about questionable plot points, challenges and her behavior throughout the series.

“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. 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. 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.”

Here’s what Tyra Banks said about backlash for those insensitive ANTM moments…

Tyra Banks Breaks Silence on Insensitive Moments on 'America's Next Top Model'

Tyra Banks is speaking out in response to the insensitive moments that were featured on her reality show America’s Next Top Model throughout the years.

Clips from the show have been resurfacing this week and fans have looked back at some of the cringeworthy moments.

Tyra once told Cycle 6 winner Dani Evans that she’d never be a successful model because of the gap in her teeth. Cycle 13 included a photo shoot where contestants had their skin darkened for a “biracial themed” shoot. Cycle 4 runner-up Kahlen Rondot was asked to do a photo shoot in a coffin in a graveyard, just one day after her friend died.

“Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you. Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs. ❤️,” Tyra wrote on Twitter on Friday night (May 8).

Tyra has been hosting the show since 2003.

In a recent interview, Tyra opened up about the weight she has gained since posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover last year.

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Tyra Banks Gets Rid of 'America's Next Top Model' Age Limit

Tyra Banks is back at the helm of America’s Next Top Model and making a big change.

The 43-year-old host has announced that she is removing the age limit from the contestant application for the upcoming season, allowing models of all ages to apply.

“There have been 23 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, and every single cycle we say you have to be 27 years old or younger,” Tyra said in a Twitter video. “You know what I hear all the time? ‘Tyra, come on! Why have an age limit?’ So, you know what? I’m taking that age limit off. You want to audition for America’s Next Top Model? I don’t care how old you are, honey.”

She added, “You just need to know how to smize and be open to learning how to work the runway like a supermodel.”

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Tyra Banks Sets 'Top Model' Return, Showers Rita Ora with Love

Tyra Banks is return to America’s Next Top Model as the host of the upcoming 24th cycle!

The 43-year-old former supermodel hosted the show for its first 22 cycles and Rita Ora was the host of the 23rd cycle.

There were rumors that Tyra wanted to have Rita fired from the show after there was a ratings dip, but her latest tweet clearly proves that she still has love for the singer.

“I missed my ANTM baby so Mama’s back! #ANTM #ANTM24,” Tyra tweeted. She added, “Mizz @ritaora, you exemplify Business Boss Brand to the fullest! Thank you for all the amazingness you brought to ANTM ’.”

Tyra will be doing double duty with hosting as she is also going to host America’s Got Talent this summer!

'America's Next Top Model' 2017 - Who Won Cycle 23?

America’s Next Top Model crowned its winner tonight!

In case you didn’t tune in, the three finalists were India Gants, Tatiana Price, and Cory Anne Roberts.

Each took part in a photo shoot for Paper magazine and did their last-ever runway walk before the judges.

“I’m super excited. I’ve known for quite some time, but it’s really exciting to have the whole public know as well,” the winner told People.

So who won ANTM?

Click inside to see who won America’s Next Top Model cycle 23…More Here! »

Rita Ora Runs into Sam Smith, Calls Him 'One of the Good Ones'

Rita Ora looks pretty in a purple jumpsuit as she heads to work while filming for America’s Next Top Model on Friday (August 5) in New York City.

On Thursday, the 25-year-old singer wore a grey ensemble while going out to lunch with friends, and she rocked a green bomber jacket earlier that day while shooting more new scenes on the set of ANTM.

Rita ran into Sam Smith earlier this week, and she took to Instagram to share a sweet post about their encounter.

“Best surprise seeing you,” she captioned the pic. “@samsmithworld radiates goodness #missedU ❤️❤️❤️❤️ #1ofthegood1s.”

Check it out below!

A photo posted by Rita Ora (@ritaora) on

25+ pictures of Rita Ora filming in NYC… More Here! »

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'America's Next Top Model' Revived By VH1 Without Host Tyra Banks

America’s Next Top Model is being revived at VH1 and former host Tyra Banks is attached to executive produce the episodes.

The 42-year-old supermodel will not return as the host of her longtime, successful reality series.

After 12 years and 22 cycles, the show was believed to have wrapped in December. However, execs put out feelers and the show will remain on the air!

“We could not be more excited to bring back and breathe new life into one of the greatest unscripted franchises on television,” CBS exec Scott Koondel said in a statement (via Variety). “VH1 is the perfect partner for this new endeavor and we hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.”