Winnie Harlow achieved a major milestone and became a symbol of diversity as a black woman with vitiligo when she walked her first-ever Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show just recently, but instead of talking about that, the 24-year-old model is currently in hot water for the controversial statements she made about America's Next Top Model.
Formerly known in the competition as Chantelle Young, the ANTM alum guested on Andy Cohen’s late-night show back in May and was quoted saying it didn’t help her modeling career. “I really started [modeling] after the show because [ANTM] really didn't do anything for my career...which it doesn't do for any model's career, realistically.” She adds, “I thought that was going to be a career starter, but it was really like a reality TV show... That's not what I signed up for.”
The controversy escalated when supermodel and ANTM creator Tyra Banks made an appearance last week on Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen. A fan caller brought up Winnie’s statement and asked Tyra for her comments on the matter, to which she replied, “Did she say that? Well, come on, I discovered her on Instagram.”
Tyra concluded, “I have nothing but love for my girls and my girls come from so many walks of life and so much pain and so much hardship and so much story, and a lot of the times when people express themselves in certain ways, there's a reason.”
Further fanning the flames, former ANTM contestant Eva Marcille slammed Winnie by also giving her two cents on the issue: “It amazes me that people get opportunities and they totally forget who gave them those opportunities. Winnie Harlow is a beautiful girl, but let’s be clear, we know her because of Top Model—the world knows her, Drake knows her, Wiz Khalifa knows her because of Top Model, so to diss Tyra who gave everyone this huge platform, I think that’s really wack.”
To finally address the controversy, Winnie took it to Instagram to release her official statement: “It has nothing to do with being ungrateful, and moreover nothing to do with ‘shade’ to Tyra. She was the first person of higher status to make me feel like I could be a model and not only am I grateful for that, it’s something I’ll never forget,” she writes. “After being on the show, no one would book me and no agency would sign me because of the reality TV stigma. Once I realized that, I stopped talking about it and grew my work base in Europe.”
The rest of her statement reads, “I understand people know me and have seen me on ANTM, but I never really talk about it because my goal is to always be honest but never to bash anyone’s empire… My truth is, I stand by what I said and I say it because I don’t want girls thinking it’s a jumpstart to a modeling career because of me.” She then ends her post by saying she’s “grateful for every experience to learn and grow,” but she also wants “to be real with young guys and girls whose dreams are to become models.”
Read her full statement in her Instagram post below:
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