Despite how she came off on her since-canceled show, scene-chewing former supermodel Janice Dickinson claims to have had nothing but love for Mia Amber Davis, the model and actress who died suddenly this week, a day after undergoing routine knee surgery.
"I really did love her. She knew I was kidding," Dickinson exclusively told E! News Wednesday, referring to her treatment of Davis when she appeared on the fourth season of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency to audition models for a spread in Plus Model magazine.
Dickinson insists that she was so hard-core against the plus-size gals purely for dramatic effect. And, she says, Davis knew beforehand that she was going to be confrontational: "That is what I get paid to do."
"What am I doing with plus-size girls in the house? It's not me," the one-time America's Next Top Model judge said while watching video of her latest crop of models interacting in the house. "There's a big, large woman in the kitchen...This wasn't my vision at all."
When her hairstylist asked what she was going to do about it, she replied, "Just kill myself."
Dickinson's son, Nathan, decided his mom needed proof that repping full-figured ladies could mean big business, and he arranged for staffers from Plus Size—including Davis, who was a creative editor-at-large for the mag—to meet with his mother.
"I have to be honest with you," Dickinson began when she first sat down with Davis, "when I first started this agency, this is not what I was thinking about. High fashion is a size 0."
"High fashion is a size 0," Davis acknowledged, adding, "Plus modeling goes from 8 to 18. The average American woman is a 12 or a 14."
Dickinson responded by getting up from the table and storming off, leaving her son to make the deal.
"I almost lost it, but I had to keep it together," Davis said later.
"Together with our amazing crew in L.A., Mia came face to face with Janice Dickinson and did an amazing job at representing an entire industry she believes in. I want to thank Mia for finding the courage to 'speak' for us all," wrote Plus Size editor Maddy Figueroa-Jones after Davis' positive appearance on the show.
Ultimately, Dickinson tells E!, she and Davis became close friends through working together, and Davis even lived at her house for a time.
"My heart goes out to her family," says Dickinson. "I am deeply disturbed by this news. I have been sobbing all afternoon. She was a kind, gentle girl. She was gentle and sweet and had a heart of absolute platinum...I am proud to say she was my friend and she had a heart of gold and I loved her dearly. This has really saddened me. Life goes on, but she has touched the hearts of everyone."