The iconic model famously removed the age limitations on her show, ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ and she EXCLUSIVELY opened up to HollywoodLife.com about her experience with ageism in the modeling industry, why she decided to retire when she did, and how she hopes to incite change on the next cycle of the show.
There’s no denying the fact that Tyra Banks, 43, is a trailblazer in the modeling industry — not only does she smolder in front of the camera, but her ability to break through boundaries at the height of her career was unprecedented at the time. In fact, Tyra was the first African-American woman to grace the covers of GQ magazine, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and the Victoria’s Secret catalog — and even with her illustrious list of accomplishments, the esteemed model is very aware of the restrictions placed on females.
We caught up with her at the ANTM Cycle 24 event in LA on June 5, where she revealed why she retired when she did. “I luckily retired. Before I was too old for anything and I was very fortunate to be connected to a company… Victoria’s Secret.. Even when I retired at 32 years old they had a contract right there saying up the deal five more years. Yeah, they were amazing and supportive of my age, supportive of my skin color, supportive of my body. I just felt that I needed to retire and do something else. I don’t know if that was stupid or not because there was a lot of money on that contract,” she said, laughing.
The model is gearing up to make a major return to America’s Next Top Model, where she’ll host the upcoming season alongside judges Ashley Graham, Drew Elliott, and Law Roach, and she’s flipping the script on the show, removing the age limit that once used to be in place. In fact, on the upcoming season, the oldest contestant is 40 years old — prior seasons restricted anyone over 27 from trying out.
While Tyra hopes to incite positive change by removing the age restrictions of contestants, the industry, on a whole, has yet to adopt her sentiment. “The modeling industry is so obsessed with that number. I say, screw the number. It’s not how old you are it’s how old you look. If you look 27, honey, then you should model 27. That is how I see it. But if you look 42, there is a whole lot of women that wanna look at somebody that looks like them. It should be a career that goes forever. But presently…”
For more on Tyra, be sure to tune in for the premiere of Cycle 24 of America’s Next Top Model.