Before Tyra Banks secured her place as one of the most sought after models of her time, the former “America’s Next Top Model” host tackled a few major obstacles, including her weight and a longtime rift with a fellow supermodel, Naomi Campbell.
In a new interview, alongside her Norwegian boyfriend, Erik Asla, the new mother opened up about her journey to the top — of the catwalk — including being declined by six Los Angeles modeling agencies before being accepted by the seventh, exclusively as a runway model.
“I got to Paris, and it was very difficult. I did really well really fast, but then the industry was saying, ‘Oh, look out Naomi Campbell, here comes Tyra Banks! So Naomi Campbell, sit your butt down,’ ” Banks said during her appearance on Norwegian/Swedish talk show “Skavlan.” “It wasn’t fair to Naomi, but her response was … to this day, I’m very scared of her. It was very difficult — like some of my lowest times of my life — dealing with that.”
The pair eventually made up on Banks’ now-canceled talk show. “I cried like a baby,” she confessed.” Campbell’s animosity wasn’t the only obstacle she had to overcome.
“My agents in Italy gave [my mom] a list of designers that did not want to hire me anymore because my body was getting thicker,” Banks said of being fat-shamed. “And she showed me this list of designers and I just started crying and said ‘Oh my gosh, Mommy, what do I do? Am I supposed to like starve myself? OK, maybe I won’t eat any bread anymore. Just salads with no dressing, salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ ”
With her mother by her side, however, starving wasn’t an option. “‘She says, ‘You know what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna eat pizza.’ And she took me to a pizzeria in Milan, Italy … She said, ‘You write down every client in this world that likes a–. Your a– is growing, and I’ll be damned if my baby starves herself for this industry. So we’re gonna go where your a– is going.’ ”
Of course, the rest is history, as the 42-year-old has gone on to become a spokeswoman, television producer and most recently, a beauty mogul.