'America's Next Top Model' creator Tyra Banks branching out
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/11/2007
It just came to Tyra Banks early one morning at her house while she was wearing undies and making tea -- the idea for America's Next Top Model, the reality competition series that has since become a The CW network ratings hit and rejuvenated the 33-year-old former supermodel's career.
"I walked past my dining room window and looked out and said, 'A show about models! Like American Idol, but modeling. Not in-front of an audience, but we follow them at home too, like the Real World. It just came to me,'" Banks told OK! Weekly in the magazine's January 15 issue.
With an eighth season of Top Model, The CW's highest rated series, scheduled to premiere in March, Banks said the success she has enjoyed as creator of it and judge on it has divested her interests. In September 2005, The Tyra Banks Show premiered on CBS, and the talk show has since been renewed for another two years, through the 2008-2009 season.
"I'm so proud of my talk show!" Banks told OK!. "With Top Model, there is a character I have to play and be stern, but with the talk show, I can be more just myself, so it's a little bit more relaxing for me."
The success of her talk show has people comparing Banks to Oprah Winfrey, who the supermodel said she's watched forever. "It was flattering for them to compare me, but at the same time, there was no way I could fill those shoes," Banks told OK!.
Banks' modeling career began in 1991 when she was about to begin her freshman year at Loyola Marymount University, but opted to sign with Elite Model Management. So instead of studying film and TV production, Banks said she found herself "on the other side of the camera."
"I got discovered at the last minute to go to Paris," she told OK!. "The first week there, I had a cover of a magazine, so I was very successful immediately."
Over the next 15 years, she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, was one of the original Victoria's Secret angels, and has been featured in runway and/or print work for Cover Girl, Swatch, Pepsi, Nike, Inc., XOXO, LensCrafters, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Vogue, ELLE, Amica, ELLEgirl, L'Officiel, Harper's Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan, among others. While Banks said the life of a model can be a lonely one, she urges others just starting out in the biz, including Top Model contestants, to avoid the temptations that are everywhere.
"I do encourage girls to not party," she told OK!. "I went to work, and I went home."
Banks' success also hepled open the reality TV door for fellow Victoria's Secret model Heidi Klum, who is the host and a judge on Bravo's Project Runway.
"I think Heidi and I are very similar," Banks told OK!. "The reason I think we were so successful, and she still is modeling, is because of that extra something."
Recently described as a "supermogul" by Time, Banks is now more than just a star of magazines and runways.
"I think it's just natural for me to be a businesswoman," she told OK!.