Tyra Banks Accused of Verbally Abusing a ‘America’s Got Talent’ Contestant’s Daughter

Tyra Banks attends NBC’s America’s Got Talent Season 12 kickoff. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Tyra Banks has already gotten into hot water at her new job. The America’s Got Talent host, who replaced Nick Cannon after his sudden exit, is at the center of a new lawsuit filed against the show’s producers. A contestant, identified only as Jane Doe, says the former model humiliated her minor daughter during a March 19 — but her daughter wasn’t the one performing.

According to the claim, Jane Doe and her husband performed a song about her bond with her daughter — specifically, about the young girl’s birth — which is apparently one of the daughter’s favorites from the couple’s repertoire of songs. Unfortunately, neither the judges nor the audience shared the daughter’s enthusiasm for the song, and the girl — identified as Mary — watched as her parents were “humiliated” by the show’s judges.

Howie Mandel, Mel B, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell are ready for action. (Photo: ABC)

Jane Doe alleges that Banks added insult to injury — making fun of the song in front of Mary, pulling Mary’s hair, physically manipulating her, verbally abusing her, and insinuating that the girl was conceived by accident.

“Mary was traumatized and became deeply depressed,” the suit claims. “Mary would become extremely nervous and anxious whenever, among other triggering events, she hears any mentions of [the] song and [the] song itself, whenever she ruminates about the events during or related to the performance, and whenever she thinks about the prospective televised airing or use online of Jane and her husband, their performance, as well as the airing and use online of any footages of Mary.”

Additionally, the 18-page suit alleges that Marathon Productions got Mary to sign a contract (which typically allows the show to portray you in whatever light the powers-that-be so please) without her parents’ knowledge or consent.

For her part, Banks has stayed on script, continuing to promote the show. “Today I start for you, the extra-ness that is, the #FacesOfTyra countdown to my @AGT debut! 7 days!!!” she wrote beside a light-hearted video showcasing her excitement about the upcoming season premiere.


The production company has already promised it would not feature Mary in the broadcast, but it refused a request that the parents’ performance not be aired either.

The plaintiffs are accusing Banks of assault and are seeking damages for infliction of emotional distress.

While the outcome of this legal battle remains to be seen, it’s safe to say that in light of the lawsuit, people are even more likely to tune in to check out what promises to be a train wreck of a performance.


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