Ishonest Podcast: Beauty Boss Tyra Banks is Still Democratizing The Modeling Industry

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

On this episode of The ishonest Podcast, the fashion icon sits down with our Features Director Jessica Cruel to discuss her past success and strife — both personal and professional — including what it took to carve out a place for herself in the formerly (though still mostly) homogenized fashion world. Reminiscing about her early modeling days, Banks recalls that she often had to prep her own hair and makeup before photo shoots and runway shows — carrying a personal suitcase full of supplies — because nobody on set knew how to properly style a woman of color.

“A lot of us brown girls, we just did [it] ourselves,” Banks says. “The makeup artists actually started getting scared of us, because they knew they couldn’t do it as good.”

Banks also shares her thoughts on the enduring legacy of America’s Next Top Model. Though the reality television show — which featured women of all colors and sizes and ran for an impressive 24 seasons — undoubtedly helped democratize modeling, Banks says it also set off a boycott behind the scenes.

“I think the fashion industry did not like that I was taking their world that was so precious and making it accessible to everyone,” she says. “Now, the world has changed.”

Much of that change is reflected in the entrepreneur’s newest venture, ModelLand, an experiential attraction that flips the script on modeling yet again. At ModelLand (which will be housed in Santa Monica, with plans to make its way around the globe once it’s safe to do so), visitors can live out their own modelling fantasy — complete with hair and makeup, personalized photo shoots, and tips from Tyra herself.

“I say that America’s Next Top Model, you watch the show,” she explains. “At ModelLand, you are the show.”

An undeniable expert in personal branding (she actually guest lectures on the subject at Stanford Business School), Banks also shares some of her best tips on the topic and explains how social media gives “power to the powerless.”.

And of course, Banks dishes on her favorite beauty products — many of them surprisingly affordable — because we would never end an ishonest podcast without asking.

Listen to the full podcast episode to hear how Banks carved out a special place in the fashion world, how America's Next Top Model democratized modeling, and her new venture, Model Land.


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Available on Apple Podcast and Spotify.

More from the ishonest podcast:

  • Lily Aldridge on Balancing Modeling, Motherhood, and a Fragrance Brand
  • Drew Barrymore on How Her Childhood Beauty Icons Have Influenced What She Teaches Her Daughters
  • Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung Talk Beauty, Representation, and the Asian-American Experience As Only Fashion Icons Can

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