entertainment

The true story behind one of the Internet's most popular memes.

More than 11 years ago, supermodel Tyra Banks had the kind of televised outburst the world didn’t quite know how to deal with.

It was the kind of outburst that would be emulated in pop culture for years to come: there would be imitations, it would find itself featured on Family Guy and later litter the internet in the form of gifs and memes.

“When my mother yells like this, it’s because she loves me. I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!” Banks yelled at eliminated contestant Tiffany Richardson. Richardson had just been told she was leaving the show, and she didn’t appear all that upset. This didn’t really fly with Banks.

Some 11 years after Banks’ outburst hit our screens, Richardson has spoken to BuzzFeed News in an extended feature about the entire ordeal and the fall out from having under a minute of footage define how you are perceived publicly forever.

Talking to BuzzFeed News reporter Michael Blackmon, Richardson revealed there was much more to the argument than the show revealed, the outburst “1,000 times worse” in reality.

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Of note, Richardson told the publication that perhaps the most difficult part was being yelled at in front of a production crew about so many intimately personal details of her life.

Richardson said she recalled Banks yelling at her, “You can go back to your house and sleep on your mattress on the floor with your baby."

Speaking to other contestants about what led to such an impassioned outburst from Banks, BuzzFeed report there seemed to be quite a complex dynamic between both Richardson and Banks.

Fellow contestant Rebecca Epley said she didn't remember the “entire wrath of Tyra,” but she said it seemed like Banks “went above and beyond to break Tiffany down.”

Another fellow contestant, Brittany Brower, agreed with that sentiment.

“It was definitely harsh … almost like Tyra wanted her to be devastated when she got eliminated, and when Tiffany was not acting that way, it’s like she just lost it. … There was a lot more anger there, especially in the beginning.”

For Richardson, "it was so over-the-top for no reason.” Banks “needed them ratings to go up or something," she believed.

“It was deep, it was passionate…the music’s going, Tyra’s beautiful self yelling [at the] poor little black girl,” she said. “It was beautiful for TV. They love to see black girls struggling and somebody coming to save her … and that just didn’t work out that way this time.”

And Richardson's no doubt right. It was beautiful for TV. It's why we are still talking about it more than a decade later.

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