Just weeks after announcing her return to “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks does away with one of the competition’s biggest criteria: age. As fans of the modeling competition series know far too well, for years, the age limit for contestants was 18 to 27 — until now.

“You know, I’ve stood for diverse beauty and erasing cookie-cutters when it comes to what is deemed beautiful. There have been 23 cycles of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and every single cycle, we say, ‘You have to be 27 years old or younger.’ You know what I hear all the time? ‘Tyra, come on! Why have an age limit?'” Banks explained in a brief video clip shared via Instagram.

“So you know what? I’m taking that age limit off,” she continued. “You want to audition for ‘America’s Next Top Model’? I don’t care how old you are, honey, you just need to know how to smize and be open to learning how to work the runway like a supermodel.”

Previously reported, in 2015, the supermodel revealed she was walking away from the reality telling EW, “I was like, you know what, I’m ready to bring someone else in. I won’t say the name of that person, but I actually brought a different person to the network, met with them, and said, ‘This is the person I want to take the reins of this show.’” She continued, “It’s something that’s been on the tip of my fingers for so long, so it wasn’t necessarily difficult [to let go]. It was actually exciting. I wanted the show to continue; I wanted to keep it new. With me creating and owning a significant portion of the show, it’s in my best interests to keep it going and to keep it fresh.”

“‘America’s Next Top Model’ was a successful franchise for two networks, first at UPN and then The CW, and it became not just a ratings hit, but a global pop culture phenomenon,” CW president Mark Pedowitz said at the time. “I want to thank Tyra and Ken for all their years of success in establishing a show that was not just popular in the U.S., but all across the world.”

Still, the show went on with pop singer Rita Ora stepping in for Banks for cycle 23, which premiered on VH1 at the close of 2016. “We could not be more excited to bring back and breathe new life into one of the greatest unscripted franchises on television,” said Scott Koondel, chief licensing officer for CBS Corp. in a press release. “VH1 is the perfect partner for this new endeavor and we hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.”

Banks concluded, “After creating an incredible, global brand, I am beyond excited to have the show reborn. I will continue as Executive Producer, but must turn my attention to new business endeavors, so I want to find a new host. I’m pumped to identify that person and bring back the show. Top Model fans, you demanded that the show come back, and VH1 answered the call. Get ready for a fierce-a-fied rebirth!”

Fast forward nearly two years later and Banks, who continued to serve as an executive producer on the show, had announced that she was reprising her role as the show’s larger-than-life host.

“Words can’t describe how much FUN I had hosting this show for you – it was such an honour – I grew up watching and loving the show it was a dream come true and I can’t wait for you to hear my new album! It’s TIME PEOPLE!!! Love the whole ANTM cast and crew and good luck for the future!! Love you @tyrabanks,” Ora wrote via Instagram, alongside a snap featuring she and Banks.

Meanwhile, executive producer Ken Mok expressed his excitement in a statement of his own, saying, “Tyra has always been the heart and soul of the franchise and her absence was deeply felt by our fiercely loyal fans who missed their Queen of the Smize. We’d like to thank Rita Ora for being a great partner and total pro.” He concluded, “She infused this new iteration of ANTM with passion and creativity and we wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.”

R. Hawkins

Humble with a hint of Muhammad Ali...