As former America's Next Top Model contestant Jael Strauss opens up to Dr. Phil McGraw about her shocking crystal meth addiction, Strauss' ANTM costars are speaking out and wishing the one-time catwalker well.
Appearing on The CW's reality hit on Cycle 8 in 2007, a then-unknown Strauss, 28, even mourned the loss of a friend who died of an overdose during her season. Now, five years later, fellow ANTM alum CariDee English is charging that Strauss was far too fragile to appear on the show in the first place.
"[Execs] should have evaluated her a lot more before letting her on the show," 2003 ANTM winner English is quoted as saying in the comments section of Gawker.com's blog about the Strauss family's plea to Dr. Phil. "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 -- who was awarded a $100,000 CoverGirl Cosmetics contract and a deal with Elite Models after her ANTM win -- also argued that Strauss, like the ANTM contestants before her, likely faced an uphill battle trying to book jobs in the wake of filming. "I love, love what I have made for myself since my win, but mentally, its horrific. And any girl who has been on ANTM can back me up. No one wants to take us serious as models," English said on Gawker. "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."
Cycle 10's ANTM winner, Whitney Thompson, doesn't see the use of pointing fingers at ANTM bigwigs and instead simply wishes Strauss well. "There have been 211 contestants on the show. Only one has an addiction to Meth so far," Thompson blogged. "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. All of the girls go through rigorous testing before setting foot in front of a camera," Thompson continued. "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."