Former winner blames show for meth addict contestant’s drug problem
The Daily Mail look into a former America’s Next Top Model winner who has slammed TV executives for exploiting one of the reality show’s most vulnerable contestants and their addiction to meth.
A former America’s Next Top Model winner has slammed TV executives for exploiting one of the reality show’s most vulnerable contestants.
CariDee English, who won the modelling competition in 2006, has spoken out in support of fellow competitor Jael Strauss.
Strauss, 28, has battled a life-threatening addiction to methamphetamine – also known as crystal meth – and been homeless in the five years since her 2007 appearance on the programme.
The troubled former star opened up to TV’s Dr Phil McGraw about her problems recently, prompting other ANTM contestants to come forward with their own well-wishes and opinions. Now English – who won a $100,000 CoverGirl Cosmetics contract and a deal with Elite Models after her 2003 triumph – says Strauss should never have been allowed to take part in the competition.
‘[Execs] should have evaluated her a lot more before letting her on the show,’ she said in the comments section of Gawker.com, in an article about the Strauss family’s plea to Dr Phil to help Jael.
‘All they saw was a personality good for television. Well, this hopefully will save at least her life and someone watching. Everything happens for a reason.’
English says it is the fate of every ANTM contestant to face terrible struggles in the fashion industry after appearing on the show.
She wrote: ‘I love, love what I have made for myself since my win, but mentally, it’s horrific. And any girl who has been on ANTM can back me up.
‘No one wants to take us serious as models. Even though we just were named ‘TOP,’ our place in line at Fashion World was at the bottom.
‘The industry many times didn’t care about our name, but did turn a snobby cheek to the name ANTM.’
But another former ANTM star – plus-size winner Whitney Thompson, who triumphed in 2009 – has also blogged to say there is no point blaming producers and executives for Strauss’ demise.
She wrote: ‘There have been 211 contestants on the show. Only one has an addiction to meth so far. Statistically speaking, Jael’s problem is evident in less than 1% of the contestants.
‘Do I think that Tyra Banks would give us this enormous responsibility if she didn’t know we could handle it? No.’
Thompson continued: ‘All of the girls go through rigorous testing before setting foot in front of a camera. Unfortunately, Jael made some bad decisions and those clearly became too much for her to handle.
‘I am glad to see her getting help. My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her loved ones. Addiction is a scary thing. We should all count our blessings.’
Jael Strauss, a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, has spent six years struggling with a drug addiction which has ravaged her once striking looks, leaving her desperate and homeless. At 22, Ms Strauss was an aspiring model and a finalist in cycle eight of the Tyra Banks hosted show, But now, the 28-year-old’s family says she is close to losing her battle with methamphetamine.
In what they say was a last ditch effort to reach out to their daughter, the family enlisted the help of Dr Phil. However on the episode, which aired on September 13, ‘the full blown meth addict’ resisted all help. With Ms Strauss living on the streets, Dr. Phil her brother, Brandon, and mother, Debbie, go to her hometown with the hope of finding her. Reluctantly, she agrees to travel to Los Angeles to see Dr. Phil.
However, after she is seen physically resisting being placed on the Dr Phil stage, she then runs away, out onto the Paramount lot.
Dr. Phil follows her, and makes a point of noting: ‘This is the first time in ten years I’ve come out here, [and it’s] to talk to you.’
Ms Strauss, who called herself ‘well-rounded’ while on the show, also had her fair share of struggles prior to her appearance on Dr Phil. A few episodes into the 2007 America’s next Top Model season, she had to deal with a friend’s death from an overdose.
While she decided to remain on the show, saying in an interview: ‘There was never, never a question in my mind to leave the competition. My friend is gone and I am still here living life to the fullest.’ She chose to dedicate her picture that week to her dead friend. Then, that same year, she sued over the release of erotic photos taken of when she was 16. Her family adds that while experiencing her friend’s overdose ‘really shook her’, she herself could not keep away from drugs.
A habit they say has taken its toll both mentally and physically, including rotting her teeth and leaving her body covered in sores.
Taken from The Daily Mail