Earlier this month, Chrissy Teigen escaped to Italy for a family vacation in the wake of the cyberbullying scandal that has threatened to end her lucrative career being, well, Chrissy Teigen. Since May, the 35-year-old model-turned-influencer has reportedly lost brand deals with Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Target. She also recently “stepped away” from the cleaning products company she launched with Kris Jenner earlier this year, and she “voluntarily” exited a guest voiceover role on Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show Never Have I Ever. Teigen’s husband, John Legend, is sticking by her, but few other celebrities have come to her defense. What will she do now?
In case you stopped paying attention to the comings and goings of Chrissy Teigen on social media a long time ago, here is the most recent scandal, in brief. It started back in March, when Teigen publicly announced she was quitting Twitter. (“This no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something,” she wrote, as part of a series of goodbye tweets.) Three weeks later, she was back on the platform, explaining, “turns out it feels TERRIBLE to silence yourself.” And then, a few weeks after that, Courtney Stodden told The Daily Beast in an interview that Teigen bullied them on Twitter for years, starting in 2011, when Stodden was still a minor. “She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap,’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself,” Stodden said. “Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die.’”
On June 14, Teigen issued a lengthy apology for her past tweets via the Twitter-owned blogging platform Medium. Then, fashion designer Michael Costello accused Teigen of bullying him and threatening his career over a period of several years. Teigen disputed his (somewhat sketchy) claims (“no idea what the fuck michael costello is doing,” she tweeted) and has since tentatively returned to both Twitter and Instagram, posting shots from her vacation and tweeting about 90 Day Fiance. But without some larger shift in the narrative, it doesn’t seem as though Teigen will be able to win back the public goodwill she held onto for so long. Enter: Oprah?
A few weeks ago, gossip columnist Rob Shuter reported on his “Naughty But Nice” podcast that Teigen was in talks with Oprah to do a “Meghan Markle type sit-down interview and tell her truth.” Teigen has yet to confirm this—she told TMZ in a walk-by video that “I have no idea about Oprah.”
Just this week, Teigen hinted that some kind of redemption tour is in the works. In a long Instagram caption, she acknowledged that the controversy surrounding her is ongoing and said she was sick of ignoring it on social media. “I can’t do this silent shit anymore!” she wrote. “If you or someone you know has also been cancelled please let me know if there is a cancel club reunion because I could use some time off my couch!”
What everyone seems to be forgetting is that Teigen already had a sit-down with the legend herself, and they covered much of the same ground we’re still trodding hopelessly today. The year was 2013, and Teigen was just about to get married to Legend after seven years of dating. Then 27, the model had already begun to build a name for herself outside of her relationship on—you guessed it—Twitter.
“Chrissy Teigen joins the conversation”
Teigen’s first Oprah interview was technically more about her husband—she only sat down with the mogul for a couple of segments, but they were the ones that made headlines at the time. “Oprah’s Next Chapter: John Legend” aired on OWN on June 19, 2013 and covered Legend’s new album (this was the “All of Me” era), his friendship with Kanye West, and his relationship with Teigen. The interview was conducted at the couple’s home in the Hollywood Hills.
At the time, Legend and Teigen were planning their dream wedding in Italy, though they didn’t share the date or location with Oprah on-air. They were also dealing with the fallout from a New York Post story about Legend cheating on Teigen. Naturally, Teigen had responded to the story on Twitter, which fanned the flames of the scandal. At this point in her career, Twitter was arguably helpful to Teigen—she developed a reputation as a celebrity who could call out the absurdities of Hollywood while living among the rich and famous. Responding to the Post story was both in character and exciting for fans who were used to celebrities pretending to ignore the tabloids. (Legend maintains the story was false, by the way, and it has since been scrubbed from the Post’s website.)
Just before sitting down with Oprah, Teigen tweeted about the Post’s story, which claimed that Legend entered a club bathroom with an unidentified blond woman. "Just read John cheated on me and in the uber-credible Post. I'm just heartbroken as it's definitely not typical post bullshit," she wrote in a series of now-deleted tweets. She also asked Legend if he was going to get her “one of those vanessa bryant rings,” a joke that, like many others in Teigen’s oeuvre, does not hold up super well today.
Luckily, Oprah asked Teigen to explain herself.
“Obviously, I’m very outspoken”
Oprah introduced Teigen by exclaiming, “There she is!” Her first question was about the couple’s wedding date, which Legend deflected. “John’s being coy, me, I have a big mouth,” said Teigen. “As you can probably tell, one of us is a little quieter than the other,” said Legend. From there, Oprah asked about the proposal—it happened on vacation in the Maldives—and why the couple decided to marry after dating for so long.
In the next segment, Oprah broached the cheating scandal and Teigen’s then-pretty-new obsession with Twitter. “Obviously I’m very outspoken,” said Teigen. “And I’ll say anything. I guess I’m the slowest learner ever, because I keep saying, ‘I’m learning to hold it back a little bit more.’ But I feel like I’ve really calmed down since the beginning of Twitter, which is crazy for people to believe.”
“You’ve calmed down?” Oprah asked. “Yes!” Teigen laughed. (To be clear on the timeline: Teigen joined Twitter in 2009, and she sent the offending tweets about Stodden in 2011 and 2012.)
Oprah then broached the topic of the Post story and said Teigen “went crazy” on Twitter about it. “Why do I do these things, Oprah?” Teigen asked. It’s a question that she has continued to ask herself, in some form or other, for years. The segment concluded without a firm answer.
A few months after the Oprah interview aired, Legend and Teigen were married in Lake Como in a grand ceremony featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. In the years since, Teigen’s star has continued to rise—she now has 13.5 million followers on Twitter and has probably eclipsed her husband in terms of pop culture influence.
What would her Oprah interview look like today? Well, for one, she would be headlining it, not Legend. (Though he would probably join for a couple of segments. When asked by TMZ cameras how Teigen was doing last month, he said simply, “She’s great.”) But it’s hard to imagine that Teigen could take the same “who me?” tack when discussing her behavior on social media. In 2021, the public is too familiar with social media to believe that Teigen didn’t know what she was doing when she harassed Stodden, or anyone else, for that matter.
Even if Teigen was able to land an Oprah special, it’s not clear yet that there’s an audience for it. Her most vocal supporter on her latest Instagram post talking about being “cancelled” is… Alec Baldwin. Perhaps for now, the best thing for her to do is stay quiet a little longer.