Supermodel Tyra Banks Chats About The Possible Return Of “America’s Next Top Model” & Being An “Innovator”

Tyra Banks has had a sizzling hot career since she got her first big modeling break at the tender age of 16. Since then, she has graced the covers of hundreds of magazines, taught us how to smize (or smile with our eyes), became the first female model on the cover of GQ and most recently, made an iconic return to Sports Illustrated making history as the oldest model to cover the swimsuit issue at the age of 45. (Banks was also the first black model featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue back in 1997). As for her latest cover, she said on Twitter, “This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything.”

Nine West launched its “Innovators” campaign featuring Banks styled in Nine West apparel, shoes, accessories and handbags. The Spring 2020 campaign celebrates visionary women who never stop dreaming, creating and leading the way. Like Banks, these amazing women embrace sisterhood and inspire others around the globe to take on the world in style. We caught up recently with the supermodel to chat about her legendary modeling career, a possible return of “America’s Next Top Model” and a preview of ModelLand opening in Santa Monica.

Photo Credit: Nine West

At 45 years old, how proud were you coming out of retirement to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated last year?

I was super excited about that. It was like the comeback that I never thought possible at 45 years old.

You have always said beauty comes in all sizes, colors, and ages. When you created “America’s Next Top Model” that aired at its peak in 186 countries, was breaking the beauty barriers always at the forefront of your mind?

That was always how I sold the idea of the show to different networks, the idea of atypical beauty. You want to see a makeover or a photo and just go wow, that person is beautiful. Beauty truly knows no boundaries.

Photo Credit: Nine West

How would you define true beauty?

Internal beauty, I would say ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’ That means kindness, giving back, being strong, being opinonated and even sometimes being unapologetic because that strength can be beautiful. External beauty is undeniable. There is a symmetry that makes people really beautiful, but it’s all about being confident and showing your beauty from within.

You got your first modeling break at the young age of 16 walking 25 shows your first season (the most of any model). How did it feel being the first African-American woman to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and the first female model on the cover of GQ?

It was nice to break down the walls so others could walk through them. I was the first female model on the cover of GQ, not the first black model, but the first female to be on the cover, so that was exciting.

With social media celebrating diversity, how would you say the modeling industry has changed since when you got your first big break?

It was hard to get validation from magazines because they dictated what beauty was. Social media changed all that and the magazines had to follow suit.

As the global brand ambassador for Nine West, would you say partnering with a brand committed to empowering women was one of the reasons you decided to work with them?

That was definitely the reason why. I remember coming out of retirement and people were asking me to represent brands. Nine West is so natural. Their spring campaign is all about innovators charting new paths. It’s so nice to be the ambassador for the brand.

Photo Credit: Nine West

You were the longtime host of “America’s Next Top Model.” Any thoughts on coming back for another season?

That is the question that I get asked the most. After all, I created the thing and people are now like, where the hell is it?  Right now, we are trying to figure out how to do it.

Can you offer us a preview of ModelLand, the new experiential attraction opening in Santa Monica later this year that will offer a fantasy version of the modeling world?

ModelLand is going to open May 1 in Santa Monica. It’s going to be a location-based attraction where everyone can be a fantasy version of themselves. It will be actually part of a live show and something that has never been done before. We will be changing it up, so there will be a different theme every three months.