This past Sunday I was privileged to be able to cover the Sunday with the New York Times Conversations Event with model and media mogul Tyra Banks.
Tyra was smart, engaging, funny and gave some great tips on achieving career goals, overcoming obstacles and nay sayers - and handling all sorts of situations life can throw at you - all while looking perfectly gorgeous and put together as you can see!
On breaking into modeling at 16:
"My mother told me that if I was going to go to Paris and be serious about modeling then I had to STUDY the industry...I was actually in the Fashion Library in L.A. pouring over international fashion magazines, VHS tapes (yes this was back in the 80's - no Internet!) of runway shows and memorizing every major makeup artist, stylist, hair dresser listed in those credits..."
On becoming "Commercial": "At a certain point while I was modeling in Europe I started to mature from the stick thin girl I was when I was 16. I was in Milan with my mother after I had gotten a "Memo" from my modeling agency stating the (very long) list of major designers that WOULD NOT work with me because of my breasts and hips - (yes it really said that!), and that I needed to loose major weight.
I was very upset and let my mother see the memo. She read it and then she said "You know what we're going to do?" "What, Mama?", I said. "We're going to go around the corner here and order us an entire Pizza PIE"
I said "What?!!" But it was at that table, over that Pizza, that my mother and I charted out how my career could become "Cindy Crawford's" (e.g. major endorsements, cosmetic contracts, television) - and in essence take my assets and turn me into a commercial model. The rest is history!"
On making the transition from modeling to television: "After doing regular reporting segments for Oprah's show, which were always highly rated, I kept getting offers to do television, but I knew I wasn't ready - so I kept turning them down, for years. It was not until I had a conversation with my business mentor about what I wanted out of life and I said, "Power", not money. Power to change things, power to affect the way girls see themselves and to address problems with teens. It was not until that moment that I realized that I needed to do a talk show - and the Tyra show was born!"
On style/beauty for everyday: "I am remarkably NOT into clothes in my everyday life. As a matter of fact, in part because I went to a all-girls uniformed school for many years, I am not that natural at putting together outfits, matching accessories/makeup etc. I really have to "concentrate" to do it on my own. As a matter of fact this outfit that you see now occurred after some trial and error! I had on a much different belt and shoes that I realized just didn't work right before I came here today!"
On expanding her horizons: "I am working now with one of the top branding experts in the world to help me figure out the core of who the "Tyra Brand" is. I will be doing more book projects for teens and younger girls and I always have television show pitches up my sleeve! I am also not done with improving the Tyra talk show - what you will see in the Fall 09 will be even better that what we have now in my opinion. I am looking to expand outside of media, and I will also explore projects in the areas of retail and real estate in the future as well." - RLB