Although I have always been amazed by Tyra Banks, I now understand why she is well on her way to Oprah status. Along with being a successful media mogul she continues to top her own accomplishments. She has interviewed all the past candidates in the last presidential election. We know her as the famous producer of “America’s Next Top Model”, talk show host and model. She is also currently attending Harvard Business School and we now can add author to her impressive resume. I had the pleasure of meeting Tyra while on her busy book tour at our local Barnes and Noble. Warm, clever and personable, Banks fulfilled hundreds of girl’s dreams last week in Southlake, Texas.
At the signing, Tyra’s ensemble was a mix of smart casual and Queen B all at the same time. Banks pranced on the window seal, struck plenty of poses, and read sections from her latest book, Modelland. “Tyra’s new young adult novel for teen girls, follows a girl named Tookie De La Crème who gets invited to attend an elite modeling school called Modelland. One special edition was given to her by one lucky audience member, since she left her copy in the dressing room. The Tyra tour is a show you don’t want to miss.
We had the pleasure of sitting down for a few minutes with Tyra; she gave us the scoop on what’s new in her world, how she overcame adversity and became the focused, barbeque-loving media mogul now known as Tyra.
Her favorite part of her hit show “Top Model” are the castings.
“I have this urge that fuels me in everything that I do, (and it is) to expand the definition of beauty. I was ridiculed in the press for being America’s top “waddle”, and (yet) women in the audience often said to me, “If they are saying those things about you, what are they saying about me because I have your body, or I am bigger than your body. I then decided to go on national television and talk about it.”
Why so many business are you trying to be superwoman?
“I am always striving to do more. I want my companies to live on long after I am gone, similar to Walt Disney who is my icon. Growing up you never knew he was the man in charge of Disney World, but he had a vision that still lives on still (into) this day.”
Did you always want to be a model?
It wasn’t something that I always wanted to do — it wasn’t like I grew up and looked at magazines and said, ‘Ooh, that’s so glamorous, I want to do that,'” she said. “It found me…” And so Tyra’s modeling career began, however it came with a ton of heartbreaks. “There was one woman in the agency who said to me, ‘I know you are all excited you got your new little pictures in Seventeen magazine and things, but you’re not gonna get far in this world because you’re black, so you should learn how to type, she said.”
Why did you start America’s next top model?
“I have always wanted to write and produce television and film. I wanted to go to college for that, and I would bring these ideas to my agent. He would say they were dumb or that no one would want to see that. I just got tired of him saying that, and I went to a friend who connected me to my now partner and we started the show. I have often heard (from others that) you’re not enough, not good enough, and hearing from friends about body image issues and (experiencing) things I encountered made me want to change the perception of beauty. I created a show where I could pass the (ideals or) models I felt should be in this industry. Girls with plus size bodies, girls that are quirkier or weirder (less mainstream). I felt that could help so many millions of girls to feel better about themselves.”
Why do women have an advantage over men in the modeling industry?
“There are not many professions in the world where women prevail and men are less… but the modeling industries is one of those. It is an industry that prefers and favors women, but it shouldn’t stop anyone from pursing their dreams.”
What methods did she use when you get writers block?
“I took lots of walks and sat on the stairways at school because it made me feel uncomfortable. I went to a ton of libraries and stayed up all night writing sometimes…”
What advice would yours fans who continually hear criticism ?
“Keep one ear open and one ear closed. People will always be critical. Listen to some of the criticism to motivate you to do better, and tune the rest out. I was told over and over that I was just a model, (but) when I wanted to start a talk show, but I started one anyway. You can’t let people put you in a box.”
To learn more about Ms. Banks, visit www.tyrabanks.com