“It was really, really unfortunate because the show became a global phenomenon,” the makeup artist exclusively told Us Weekly on Wednesday, July 29, while promoting his new book, The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown. “We had such magical moments. Tyra and I had a relationship, a work relationship, that started well before America’s Next Top Model and we became friends.”
The former creative director on the series explained that he felt that he’d “given the show all that I could bring to the show” when he told Banks he’d be stepping away ahead of the show’s ninth season.
“I was ready to kind of move on,” he told Us. “I look back at it [now and] I think she probably felt offended that I was leaving kind of the show at its height. I, again, I can’t speak for what she really thought at that time, but what was difficult [for me] was the reaction.”
Manuel, who ultimately returned for cycle 9 of the show and stayed until cycle 18, felt a rub once he was back on set.
“I can’t even say that she was angry,” he recalled, noting that it was “very last minute” when he was asked to come back.
Manuel was “assured” that everything would be “normal” if he came back, but that was not the case.
“I showed up and she didn’t want to speak with me. I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what to do with that,” the former fashion correspondent revealed. “And I did not have the tools at the time to process that. So that, that was difficult for me.”
He added: “For that cycle, I actually wasn’t producing for that one cycle, because I was brought on just to do one-off cycle. I was just talent. So, it was just very, very, very uncomfortable. What was difficult for me was, you know, when the cameras were on we’d talk, but when they were off, I had no communication. It was uncomfortable.”
Manuel has since written The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown, pulling from his experiences on the modeling show.
“It is inspired by my life on America’s Next Top Model and the whole working in the world of the, kind of the crazy reality TV and entertainment industry,” the former Canada’s Next Top Model host told Us. “It’s meant to be a whole lot of fun. I wrote it in this kind of satirical tone. I wanted it to be a piece of satire, but there is a gravitas to the whole piece.”
The author noted there are some “really important core themes,” including the cost of fame and power struggles within the workplace as well as “how the entertainment industry deals with intersectionality and black women’s identity.”
He added: “There are these really important topics that we’re talking about today in 2020, around the world. Yet, this is a really fun [and] laugh out loud. It’s a real fast roller-coaster ride. It almost becomes relentless at times. It gets a very fast paced book, but it’s meant to mirror the insanity in the world behind the scenes of a competition reality show.”
For more on Manuel’s book, which is available on Monday, August 3, check out his website.
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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