America’s Next Top Model is one of those shows that was so iconic at its peak, but as the years have gone by, it just hasn’t aged well at all. Tyra Banks would put the models through some seriously wild antics, from the dramatic makeovers to cringeworthy photoshoots. It doesn’t look like an easy show to compete on by any means. And while some ANTM contestants walk away with six-figure modeling contracts, one former contestant says they only got paid $40 a day while filming the popular competition show.
This conversation all started on Twitter when one user posted, “The fact that girls on ANTM were getting paid $40 an episode and Tyra and them judges were making BANK, is kinda sick.”
As the tweet started to pick up traction, Sarah Hartshorne, who competed in cycle nine back in 2007 and finished in 8th place, chimed in agreeing with the original poster. She tweeted, “$40 an episode and we had to pay for food.”
$40 an episode? Even back in 2007, that’s hardly enough money to pay for anything substantial. Were they supposed to use that $40 to buy food? Let’s hope not. But either way, $40 a day is certainly less than the minimum wage.
Another Twitter user replied to Sarah’s post, challenging her by saying, “At the same time Tyra didn’t put a gun to anyone’s head and said they had to stay right? No one could hold you against your will right? So if Tyra and the production was so horrible, the pay was insulting. Why not leave? Seriously asking.”
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Sarah’s response revealed a lot about the behind-the-scenes nature of the show. She replied, “Actually, we signed a contract that said we had to stay. 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 followed up with another tweet, saying, “We were scared, young, impressionable girls who wanted to be to there. But I still think we deserve to be paid for our labor. Also the ‘why didn’t you leave’ mind frame is so harmful. Lots of people stay in harmful situations for complicated reasons. I feel really judged by you.”
This isn’t the first time America’s Next Top Model has come under fire for its mistreatment of contestants. Last year, several clips from the earlier cycles went viral and prompted criticism on Twitter. From Tyra telling a model that she couldn’t model with a gap in her teeth to criticizing an LGBTQ contestant for being too open about their sexuality, there are many elements of the show that feel problematic by today’s standards.
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In a similar vein as the $40 a day allegation, there have been other reports of poor conditions behind-the-scenes. One former contestant, Angelea Preston, said in an interview with Daily Mail that the production of ANTM was like “Top Model prison.” Angelea sued the show because she claimed that producers wrongly disqualified her after she revealed her background working as an escort. However, she also claimed that the contestants were forced to film for up to 17 hours a day.
She said they were “put on ice” and not allowed to eat, drink or talk until they were called to film. Additionally, Angelea alleged that the contestants were kept in a holding room guarded by the production team, which sounds similar to what cycle nine’s Sarah described on Twitter. That’s a lot to deal with for, allegedly, only $40 a day.
Tyra hasn’t commented on the accusations of mistreatment, but she did offer up a Twitter apology last year when the show’s problematic moments were going viral. She said, “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.”
TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ANTM ALLEGEDLY ONLY PAYING $40 A DAY? DO YOU THINK TYRA SHOULD SPEAK UP MORE ABOUT THE ALLEGATIONS CONCERNING HER SHOW?
[Photo Credit: ABC/Adrienne Raquel]