The “venerable” New York Times rarely bets on black when it comes to the cover of its Sunday magazine. On Sunday, June 1, in what may be a move to capture the the attention of young women of all races and ethnicities, the Old Gray Lady will feature the likes of supermodel and budding television mogul, Tyra Banks on its cover. Although I am not a die-hard Tyra fan, her face and story is a much welcomed improvement over last week’s cover about some self-absorbed wanna be somebody but really nobody blogger, Emily Gould. The effort begged the question: Who did this heifer “have relations with” over at the Times to merit a cover story? But enough about what’s-her-name.
Called, “Banksable”— a take on both on Tyra’s name and the name of her company–Bankable Productions, the article delineates, in great detail, the “magic” and the mission of Banks, which, she says, is to “instill self-esteem in young girls” while providing them with “attainable fantasy”.
“I saw that the mass girls with cosmetic and swimsuit calendars made more money than the high-fashion girls. I started looking at Cindy Crawford. She had been a high-fashion girl, and then she segued into being this Americana girl, [says Banks] “No black girl ever attempted to be Cindy Crawford. Supermodels like Iman were intimidating divas — they weren’t like: ‘Hi! Here’s a Pepsi!’ I wanted Cindy’s career — I wanted to be the black girl next door.”
… “I always wanted control,” she said. “My mother taught me that. Partially because every single day of my modeling career, I encountered prejudice. They’d say, ‘You can’t do this runway show in the winter because you’re black.’ ‘You can’t be on the cover.’ ‘You can’t do this campaign.’ ‘You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.’ It never made me bitter, but it did make me hungrier to prove them wrong.”
And addressing the criticism that ANTM winners don’t become successful models, Tyra responded:
“Of course I know what a supermodel looks like,” Banks said, “but I also know that a show filled with 13 girls that have the right look and no personality is not going to be relatable or watched. I’m more interested in fighting for the racial mix of the cast. Dark-skinned black girls are usually not famous — if you think of black girls, it’s light-skinned girls like me or Beyonce or Halle Berry. When I’m casting a dark-skinned black girl on ‘Top Model,’ I’m sending a message to the little girl watching at home that she is beautiful.”
But for the upcoming cycle, number 11, she will demand that the contestants have a much better knowledge of the fashion/modeling industry:
“I think, at Bankable, we’re cooling on reality shows. In the beginning, the girls were spontaneous. But now everyone looks at ‘Top Model’ as a way to become a star.” She paused and then said: “For the next cycle, they’re going to have to do homework about the fashion business. I want girls I can help become professional models. I don’t want to help girls just become known — there’s no point to that.”
You can say she’s over the top and a bit contrived. Hell, the article opens with a discussion of Tyra’s 275 smiles. (Can you believe it? Unfortunately, from Tyra, I can.). But you can not deny that sistah has done the damn thing by capturing the hearts and attention of a most sought after demographic — young women ages 18-34. Oh, and she’s made a little money in the process.
For more on the woman, the legend (if only in her own mind) that is Tyra, click here.