As the warm, outspoken den mother urging women to go for their dreams on “The Tyra Banks Show” and the glamorous, queen-bee coach of “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks has made the leap from supermodel to the power lists of Times and Forbes magazines.
“I’ve always had a passion for self-improvement in women,” says Banks, who started at 18 with herself — becoming a cover girl and parlaying her fame and moxie into creator, host and executive producer.
An actress and philanthropist with the heart of a mentor (she started the TZONE Foundation for low-income, disadvantaged girls and women), Banks is also not afraid to express her inner clown. Any talkshow host who spontaneously gets up on national TV to show women how to use public toilets in a more hygienic manner has to be all these qualities rolled into one.
“Tyra” is geared “to heal and to entertain,” explains Banks, who boldly took on the tabloids over women’s weight and added plus-size competitors to her “Model” show.
“She’s a terrific idea generator,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures, the production company behind Banks’ talker along with Banks’ own Bankable Prods. “She has great rapport with the audience and knows how to make TV compelling and entertaining.”
Solid going into its third year, the “Tyra” talker plans a move to New York City for new kick and energy for the fall.
“Tyra Banks is one of the most intelligent, driven women I have ever met in my career,” adds Dawn Ostroff, president of entertainment at the CW (where “Model” is the No. 1 show, with 5.4 million viewers, regularly winning its Wednesday timeslot — a rarity for a weblet to beat the Big Four).
Says Banks: “I was always the same person with the same morals and values. The siren with the smoldering eyes, that was what got me known, but that wasn’t me. I was playacting.”
Vocation: “What I do is I take information I want to share with women and design it so it’s enjoyable and entertaining.”
Recent breakthrough: “Knowing I wasn’t a vanity producer … I was a true producer.”
Role models: “I love Martha Stewart’s business model; she’s so true to her brand; … Oprah Winfrey, for obvious reasons; … and Angelina Jolie, more someone I respect because she doesn’t just say it, she does it.”
Career mantra: “Proving people wrong is satisfying. Also, don’t just have a dream, make that dream happen.”
What’s next: “We’re working on optioning a book I found for a feature film. And I’m looking at some atypical businesses that are still on brand.”