Tyra Banks recently sat down for an interview with BuzzFeed News to talk all things America's Next Top Model, which starts airing again on Jan. 9. And in doing so, she even addressed the now-infamous "We were all rooting for you moment," which has become a staple in many a GIF enthusiast's arsenal.
For context, BuzzFeed News published an article in January detailing one of the most memorable moments from the iconic modeling show's history: Banks' blowup on contestant Tiffany Richardson in 2005.
Banks said that she was "so proud" of Richardson's growth, but in the moment, acknowledged that the contestant probably was thinking the blowup was "some crazy shit."
"A lot of the times, it’s easy to go either way. It’s easier to say, 'Oh my god, that was awful, I’m a victim,' or it’s the other way around, 'I’m awful,' and you kinda blame yourself," Banks told BuzzFeed News. "I felt like [Richardson] took ownership of some of the things she could’ve done better, but at the same time said, 'That was some crazy shit.'"
Now, years later, would she do anything differently? "Oh my god totally, I wouldn't have done it," Banks said. "Actually, maybe I wouldn’t have aired it."
Banks also explained why she was so passionate about Richardson's perceived lack of drive in the competition.
"It was such an emotional, visceral moment for me," Banks said. "I had so much love for this girl."
Banks declined to go into specifics — saying Richardson deserves some privacy — but noted that the team invested "so much into her," and combined with what the contestant discussed in private, "I was just like, 'This is my girl.'"
The former model turned business woman also confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the moment between Richardson also happened at a time when she was exhausted.
Banks also addressed Richardson's complaint that the judges would often critique in a way that felt humiliating, telling BuzzFeed News that each judge has their own way of delivering criticism. She also said that what contestants are told on the show pales in comparison to what they'd hear in the real world of modeling. "It can be very harsh, but the real industry is harsher," Banks said.
"The things I have heard — it makes you insecure about things that you weren’t even insecure about," Banks added. "A lot of girls see it on TV, but it’s not the same as when it’s happening to you. So Top Model is nothing new, you’ve seen it for ages and you see these girls crying and you're like, 'I'm gonna go on there and I'm gonna be amazing,' and then you get this feedback that maybe you’re not perfect and these are the areas that you need to improve being said to you in so many different ways from different judges and that can hurt.”
Years later, it seems Banks now embraces the ubiquitous memes of her most out-of-character moment, although she said she herself has never sent the "We were rooting for you" GIF to anyone. But that doesn't mean she won't "do it live" upon request.
"So people come up to me on the street and they're like, 'OK, Tyra, just say my name and just replace 'Tiffany,' but say my name.'"