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America's Next Top Model: Ousted Model Defends Tyra's Controversial "Blackface" Photo Shoot

Americas Next Top Model, Brittany Tyra Banks/Pottle Productions Inc

Mahalo no she didn't!

Instead of heading abroad, the petite contestants of America's Next Top Model boarded Fierce Airlines for Hawaii this week. But without kimonos or Carmen Miranda fruit hats to make their experience culturally relevant, Tyra Banks had to get creative and...biracialize the models?!

Mathematician Brittany, who was sent packing in this week's episode, explained why Tyra thought it was a good idea to change the models' skin color and play Yahtzee with cultures and ethnicities in the name of fashion.

Break it down, Brittany...

Did you think the biracial photo shoot was controversial?
No, I didn't think that at all. I thought it was very positive. It was my favorite shoot. Everything we do, there's a theme...Modeling to me is like acting. You're given unique roles and characters. You're given opportunity to portray something in a theatrical sense. Unique, amazing hair and wardrobe set. You just get into character.

You weren't worried that your photo [with headdress and artificially tinted skin] is offensive to Native Americans?
No, I wasn't worried about that at all. I hope that the Native American culture doesn't take it to be offensive.

Did any of the other girls express concern during the shoot?
No. On the set of shoot, it's so quick. It's like being in a play—you have theatrical makeup, and you're in character on the set. And it's over in five minutes. The shoot was to portray biracial ethnicities, but it was a fashion shoot with hair and makeup concepts as well.

Do you think they still would have done that if more of the African American girls had been in the competition at that point?
Yes, I do. I don't see why they wouldn't. I was standing next to Sundai, and they put so much glitter and all these different things to change the tint of how it would look in the lighting. Lighter skin is easier to do that. She actually looked much lighter to me standing next to me. It's more difficult, but everyone was trying to portray the racial combination.  

Why do you think Tyra came up with this idea?
I think this is one of the best shoots of the cycle. Fashion, hair, wardrobe, makeup. Everything was incredible. She was going for something that was unique and fashiony and editorial. And it was at the same time appreciating history and culture. In America's Next Top Model, when they go abroad, they incorporate the culture into the shoots. For Hawaii, she brought up the idea of the cane-sugar factory, where tons of people immigrated from all over the place. So it's just more celebrating the biracial lines that came from this...the lineage of Hawaii.

Are you buying what Tyra is selling? How do you feel about this season of Top Model? Hit the comments!


Who do you think should swim home next? Vote in our America's Next Top Model Cycle 13 photo gallery!