Move over Rita Ora. Tyra Banks is back.
Fans of “America’s Next Top Model” have a lot to smize about. In case you missed it, on Thursday, March 16, VH1 announced that the former cat walker turned host — who also serves as the reality series’ creator and executive producer — will be returning to front the long-running model competition show, as soon as this summer.
The news may come as a shock to fans. As you may recall, in 2015, Banks made the decision to walk away from the show, 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 into Banks’ big shoes 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!”
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 ❤❤❤
Now that she’s (ANTM) been reborn (so to speak) it appears that Banks just couldn’t watch someone else raise her small screen baby — a move both the judges and executives seem to favor. “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.”
Of course, this isn’t the first big news to come from Banks’ camp this month. Earlier this week, Howie Mandel, longtime judge on “America’s Got Talent” revealed that the mother of one, 43, would be replacing Nick Cannon as their beloved host. “Please welcome @TyraBanks to the @NBCAGT family!” he tweeted. “She’s our new host.”
“Since I was a little girl, I’ve been obsessed with grandiose acts and performers who make the seemingly impossible possible,” Banks stated in a press release. “I love how ‘AGT’ brings that feeling into everyone’s home, capturing the best of people who come out and give it their all to make those big, fierce and outrageous dreams come true. I look forward to connecting with the dreamers, having fun and giving hugs and words of encouragement when needed. And maybe I’ll get one or two performers to smize for the audience!”
You go girl! What are our thoughts on Banks returning to ANTM? Sound off in the comment section below.