After an old clip from America’s Next Top Model, a show Tyra Banks created and executive produced, resurfaced earlier this week in these internet streets, people quickly called Banks to the front of the congregation. And now the subject of that clip is speaking out.
In the video from a 2006 episode, Banks asks then-aspiring model Danielle “Dani” Evans why she refused to have the gap between her teeth closed after being sent to the dentist.
“Do you think you can have a CoverGirl contract with a gap in your mouth?” Banks asked Evans during the elimination round.
Evans answered: “Yes, why not?”
“It’s not marketable,” Banks responded.
In the end, Evans agreed to close the gap—but not completely.
Runway coach Miss Jay Alexander joked, “I guess she left the ‘gap’ wide open for another girl, baby.”
Now that the clip has resurfaced, media outlets reached out to Evans for a response, but she declined to speak about the situation. That is until fellow model Slick Woods (a former face for Fenty beauty), known for her gap-toothed smiled, reposted the damning footage.
Wood’s caption read: “No one should ever talk to you like that @danievans1, that episode f-cked up little Simone/Slick. So that’s how y’all feel @tyrabanks @miss_jalexander?
After reading her message, Evans felt a responsibility to speak her truth. The model, who’s worked with brands such as Sephora and CoverGirl, and has graced the pages of Elle and ESSENCE, posted an Instagram video explaining everything viewers didn’t see off-camera. Evans noted that her response was not to “war against anyone or defame anyone’s character.” Evans was also adamant that the video wasn’t an opportunity to discuss her relationship with the ANTM creator. Rather it was moment to address a 15-year-old issue that hit close to home for a lot girls watching at home on their television screens that still carries weight today.
Evans, who auditioned for the show at the suggestion of her brother as a way to escape Arkansas, remembered feeling “basically set up” after “not being told Tyra wants me to get my gap closed” by a producer. “So that it’s good for TV,” she added.
“In that moment the 19-, 20-year-old Danielle stood there realizing that it was my one-way ticket out on this side or keeping my gap on this side and going back to Little Rock, Arkansas. What you think I’m gonna choose, fam?”
What audiences didn’t see was the model-hopeful and the TV host shooting that “whole fiasco about two or three times” for the cameras. Evans kept her eye firmly fixed on that lucrative modeling contract.
“I was not going to allow something that was physical on my face to stop me from getting out to make a better life for myself. I had a laser focus goal. Nothing or no one was going to stand in my way,” Evans said, never taking her eye off the camera. “It wasn’t about coping out. It was about understanding what holds weight and value in my life and teeth was not one of them.”
Banks has yet to weigh in on old the footage. Still, ESSENCE reached out to her rep for comment.
But in a 2015 Entertainment Weekly interview Banks explained the reason for creating the popular series, ANTM, which ran for 15 seasons in the U.S. ending in 2018. The longtime model and entrepreneur said she began her show as a way of embracing different facets of beauty that weren’t celebrated enough.
“I really wanted to show girls that beauty is not cookie-cutter. So when I’m talking to that girl that’s standing in front of me, and she’s got big freaking red hair and alabaster skin and freckles all over her face, and I’m saying she’s still in the running, yes, I’m talking to her,” Banks explained then, “but I’m really talking to the millions of girls that look like her that are at home watching.”
Evans would go onto win that season of America’s Next Top Model, earning a $100,000 contact with CoverGirl, a modeling contract with Ford Models and a fashion spread in Elle. The model recently signed with Elite Model Management in New York City.