The straight-talking host of America’s Next Top Model has plans for a global empire. Is the world ready?
“Oh my God, look at you!” Tyra Banks shouts from down the hallway. I’m in the supermodel-turned-supermogul’s office in Santa Monica, but I’d been so distracted (looking at my phone, mortifyingly) that I hadn’t noticed her approach. “You’re like this!” she hoots, imitating my exhausted jetlagged stance by assuming the pose of a marionette whose puppeteer has let go of the strings.
Under normal circumstances, being mocked by one of the world’s most famous supermodels would feel close to bullying. But Banks – as she always does on her hugely successful TV show, America’s Next Top Model – makes herself the joke, tripping over (“Whoops!”) and commiserating about our mutual fatigue. “I’m like, just give me some snacks, you know what I’m saying?” she cackles. She’s wearing a blazer over a dark T-shirt, a necklace with a big B dangling from it, dark trousers and boots. Her hair is long and auburn, and when I tell her how much I like the colour she makes a hearty laugh: “It’s a wig! Can’t you tell?” We walk into a boardroom and sit opposite one another. “This doesn’t feel very intimate,” she says regretfully. In person, Banks exudes less of the uber-confident, camp big sister vibe that has made her such an endearing TV presenter, and is more like an eager-to-please friend.