The Book on Tyra Banks

Tyra Recently let the people of American Way Magazine into her personal life as she talked about Life after the talk show, what's in store for the SUPERMOGUL, family, and what she hopes she never loses or EVER gets out!! Here are the scans from the article, If you have trouble reading them let me know and I will post the article in a different format! ENjoy! ♥

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Sure, Tyra Banks will burp for you. Like some locker-room lout, she’ll also freely chat about all different types of unflattering topics: cellulite, nose hair, hormonal cycles and pretty much any funky bodily function.

“I probably talk about my private life more than the average person,” says Banks, appearing sincere and yowza-level beautiful at 10 a.m. as she sits primly on a big sofa in her Manhattan production office. “I get so descriptive about things that most women feel gross talking about, people probably scream ‘TMI! Too much information!’ ”

The model turned media star’s life is hardly an open book, however. She resists divulging romantic details, plays business deals close to the vest and prefers vague generalities when any touchy subjects come up. “Let’s not go there!” said Banks’ publicist off camera (but on microphone) as Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden asked about gripes by older supermodels Janice Dickinson and Paulina Porizkova, who were both booted off as judges from Banks’ reality series, America’s Next Top Model. While her rep ran interference, Banks sat tight-lipped with a nervous “smize” — that’s “smiling with the eyes,” to those unfamiliar with Bankspeak.

If you want to read the book on her, lists a single volume: the glamour guide titled Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out, which she co-authored 12 years ago. It’s mostly a breezy makeover manual with few deep insights into her offstage life. But the sassy you-go-girl dynamo who broke out of modeling and served as Oprah Winfrey’s youth correspondent before creating, executive producing and hosting the reality smash Top Model has written an entire library full of more personal works. They’re journals, actually: small unlined notebooks crammed with important notes, to-do lists, travel tips, talent bookings and more, all penned in extremely tiny, tiny print that seemingly only she can decipher.

“She takes notes all day long,” explains Ken Mok, Banks’ longtime producing partner on Top Model. “She writes down what she eats, inspirational ideas, everything.”

Just don’t expect these diaries to ever be published — Banks blogs on her website,, and is on Facebook, but these journals are strictly for her private use. And she’s so nervous they might get lost or stolen that she often refrains from writing TM-real-I inside.

“I wrote a quote in here the other day,” says Banks, 36, as she leafs through the most recent all-in-one notebook that she carries in a purse crammed with crumpled documents, cosmetics and several other essentials. “Here it is: ‘Produce your life like it’s a show.’ I put that quote in because I’m very good at producing television, and I’m extremely hands-on when it comes to handling my business life. From offstage until the moment I walk onstage, I constantly tweak my talk show and Top Model … but at the same time, I often leave my private life by the wayside.”

Banks’ journals are partly a self-help guide, partly a TV textbook and partly a way to organize a highly hectic schedule. Her self-named syndicated talk show ends this month after a five-year run and two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show ; remarkably, America’s Next Top Model is now finishing up its 14th cycle; and Banks’ company, Bankable Enterprises, is eager to enter the teen-publishing business as well as to produce feature films and additional TV series.

Despite a frenetic lifestyle, Banks attempts to live a highly organized life. Her office domain is almost frighteningly immaculate, with eight perfectly propped, colorful pillows lining the large L-shaped sofa. Kooky pottery from kitsch designer Jonathan Adler is placed strategically in the room (“I like whimsy,” she says). And every Fiji Water bottle, orchid plant and framed family photograph is set neatly in its place. She slowly sips a Starbucks beverage and speaks in deliberate tones, later letting her hair down and laughing about “the hood” where she grew up, in Inglewood, Calif., as the subject of LA soul food comes up.

Darting from subject to subject isn’t unusual for Banks, whose diverse interests range from good eating (she’s a walking Zagat guide) and interior design (she’ll often attend real estate open houses for decorating tips) to pop music (she released a 2001 single with basketball great Kobe Bryant and performs Top Model’s theme) and acting (she’s had parts in a half-dozen movies, including Coyote Ugly, as well as on TV shows such as Felicity and The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air). By now, Banks’ meteoric rise to success has been fairly well documented, and with all her TV shows over the last year (her résumé also includes ABC’s True Beauty, the second season of which premieres at the end of this month), her annual haul was estimated at $30 million. That’s nothing to burp about.

Given her lifestyle moves, combined with the volatile roller coaster of the television business, a good title for Banks’ future autobiography might be Subject to Change. But that book has yet to be written. Instead, American Way took a cue from her stack of journals, each of which uses various tabs to mark subsections about different subjects, to give a glimpse into the varied parts of Banks’ world.


When you’re a supermodel, travel comes with the territory. Banks’ various gigs across the globe have turned her into an exemplary jet-setter .

“The first thing I’ll do on a plane after sitting down is to see who’s on the cover of American Way,” she says. “I’ll also put on thick, cushy socks when I fl y. And then whenever I sleep, I’ll cover up my face, because I’m afraid of seeing a picture someday on the Internet showing me with my mouth wide open and drool running down my chin. I learned that from Halle Berry, by the way: Put the blanket over your head when you sleep on a plane!”

Bradford Sisk, production vice president at Bankable and a longtime aide, says Banks especially enjoys colorful world capitals such as Amsterdam and Bangkok. “When we go abroad for Top Model, she’ll have every travel guide highlighted and underlined,” he says. “If we’re not working, there’s not a moment when we’re not seeing all there is to see in that city.”

But Banks says she prefers spending personal holiday time in the United States, citing Orlando, Fla., as her somewhat surprising ideal vacation spot in the world. “I want to see all 50 states, but so far I’ve only been to around 25 of them,” she says. High up on her to-do list: lounging in splendor at the Encantado Resort in Santa Fe, N.M. “I love that city,” she says.


Banks has romanced a number of high-profile figures over the past two decades — from her Higher Learning director, John Singleton, to singer Seal — but she keeps quiet on the subjects of dating and marriage. For the last three years, she’s been linked with financier John Utendahl, founder of a large investment-banking firm on Wall Street. The two have been seen and photographed together around New York City but mostly keep their relationship off the radar.

“I’m not sure exactly how gossiping about my life with my audience really helps them,” explains Banks, who adds that she’s never been shy about delving into other areas of her life. “I’m constantly describing my bodily functions, I’m very open about the subject of heartache, but I choose not to share [details about dating], so that very minor part of my private life stays very private.”

She will admit that having a family is moving far up on her agenda. “I talked about adopting a baby when I was 20 years old, before it became ‘hip,’ ” Banks says. “It’s not like I want to hop on a bandwagon, because I said it 15 years ago — bringing a child into your life who is not genetically yours is one of the most beautiful things you can do. But I’m also interested in having my own baby, too. Maybe I’ll do both. In any case, it needs to be sooner rather than later. I’d like to be able to run around with my children.”


Banks’ love affair with carbs, fat and sugar is the stuff of legend. Perhaps the most sensational blow came in 2007 when tabloids ran unflattering swimsuit photos of her with the headline “America’s Next Top Waddle.” She took matters into her own hands, announcing that she weighed 161 pounds — a gain of 30 pounds since her modeling days — and using her talk show to tell her critics to kiss off.

These days, Banks is slender again, though she has joked that her cellulite situation is almost a lost cause. A self-admitted “foodie,” she still “loves the grubby, nasty, greasy stuff that’s real good” as well as “the high-end stuff ” in fancier dining establishments. “I like high-low,” she says. “I don’t go to the cool, trendy restaurants. I go to either the holes in the wall or the super-fancy restaurants where there are no cool people.”

One favorite: New York’s fun and frivolous Five Napkin Burger, which she calls “amazing.” Says Five Napkin general manager Todd Cederholm, “Tyra’s been in a few times, and she’s really cool, very outgoing and just generally gives off a great vibe. The whole restaurant was gawking as she and this guy sat at a corner-table banquette and ordered three burgers to share between the two of them.”


Following in the footsteps of runway pioneers Beverly Johnson, Iman and one-time rival Naomi Campbell, Banks reigned as arguably the most successful black model of her generation. She broke new ground as the first African-American beauty to grace the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition. Retiring from the business in 2005, she remains connected with the fashion world through her reality show and, which promotes her trademark meme, “Beauty inside and out.”

Leading models today “are known only by a select few people in high fashion,” she says, describing how top actresses and singers like Penelope Cruz and Beyoncé have taken over magazine covers and ad campaigns for clothing and cosmetics. “Models now need to promote themselves, think like businesswomen and diversify their careers by doing other things,” she says. “Chances are very slim that a mere model will become a household name today.”

With Top Model, Banks is careful to cultivate contestants’ cool quirks over their Barbie blush — she calls it “debatable beauty,” and it’s key to the show’s success. “Women who watch Top Model together should disagree,” she says. “I want one to find a certain girl interesting while her friend might feel she looks like a freak. It opens up that narrow view of what little girls are constantly told is ‘beautiful.’ Sure, the show is about modeling and taking an aesthetically and geometrically correct photograph. And, of course, we do show some ‘pretty’ girls. But the majority of them are a little askew. Our underlying message: This girl looks like you.”


The demise of The Tyra Show was publicized as a mutual decision between its host and the network, though Banks’ associates say, on background, the move was purely a financial decision made by the struggling CW. (The show was syndicated for its first four years, then moved to the CW in September 2009 with the network banking on further branding with Banks via Top Model.) With Oprah Winfrey set to leave her own hit syndicated show, it appeared that opening might have boosted Banks farther up in the overall ratings, especially since she dominated viewing among her young female demographic and felt “ecstatic” about her numbers last fall right before the plug was pulled.

“The network made a mistake in not waiting for the TV advertising crisis to end,” says a longtime associate. “But perhaps there’s a silver lining, because carrying both The Tyra Show and Top Model, there was a perception she was overextending herself.” Some of the bruised feelings relate to the fact that Top Model, originally airing on the old UPN network, was pivotal to the CW’s growth. (Banks literally “pulled the switch” to begin broadcasting the upstart network.) “I’m still really proud of the [viewership] numbers,” she explains. “Even after we announced the show wasn’t returning, we beat many competitors and often came in at number one for our demo. A lot came down to economics — after running numbers and figuring risk versus return, we decided it wasn’t best to bring the talk show back.”

Still, new TV programming plays a large role in Banks’ future, as do moves into motion pictures, book publishing and other media. “I’m trying to build a strong business. I want to create new stars, new shows and new products for my audience and create a legacy that outlives me,” she says. “There are so many other ways I want to reach women besides doing a talk show.”


For Banks, the journey is the destination. “I loved planning The Tyra Show more than actually having to do it,” she explains. “I loved coming up with show ideas, honing each program and crafting it. I’m more excited being in a meeting than being on TV.” These days, Banks is taking plenty of meetings, discussing everything from live stage shows to Internet properties. On the books front, Banks says she has 20 — yes, 20 — projects in various stages of development and expects to publish young-adult fantasy novels along the lines of the Twilight and Harry Potter series. In addition to big media plays, Banks is also making headway in her philanthropy efforts such as her TZONE Foundation, which teaches self-esteem to underprivileged youths.

Today, Banks’ company has a dozen fulltime employees, and she hopes to double that number by year’s end. While her business grows, however, she’s mindful that she’s staking out new turf for a former model and that there’s no ready-made blueprint for her to mimic. “What I’ve done postmodeling has been really difficult because there haven’t been anyone’s footprints that I could follow,” she says. Fortunately, “trailblazer” is a title Banks is quite comfortable with.