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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

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…

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