Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Encore: Interview with Tyra Banks

Aired January 03, 2010 - 21:00   ET



TYRA BANKS, MODEL/TALK SHOW HOST: There's something I got want to tell you.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Tyra Banks -- from top model...


BANKS: The reason why they paid me what they paid me was because I moved the product.


KING: To media mogul.


BANKS: I've finally figured out that my brand is beauty inside and out.


KING: She dares to bare her real self to the world.


KING: Oh, you're here.

BANKS: Yes, that's...

KING: Oh, this is -- this is kind of kinky.

BANKS: Yes, it's kinky. Exactly.


KING: Tyra Banks shows and tells.


BANKS: I'm over my last name. I...

KING: So what are you now, Tyra? BANKS: Just Tyra.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: Just call me Tyra.



Good evening.

What a pleasure to welcome her back -- Tyra Banks. Whoa. Since this show, she's become major. She appeared here in January of 2007 and look what's happened to her since -- host of "The Tyra Show;" creator/executive producer and host of "America's Next Top Model," which airs Wednesday nights, on the CW, no less; and recently launched an online magazine called "TYRA: Beauty Inside and Out."

Are you looking to be Oprah?

Is that it?

BANKS: Am I looking to be Oprah?

Oh, Lord, if I tried, I would fail.

KING: But you're approaching it -- magazines, shows, specials.

BANKS: She is like the -- the Godmama, you know. I -- there will never be another. There never has been, there never will be another. But looking to be her -- no. I mean, I -- I started as a model. So there's a path that's quite different.

KING: Yes. OK. You said it.

BANKS: Yes, but, I mean I bow down to her.

KING: The last time you were on, we were dealing with the "F" word, meaning fat.

BANKS: Oh, I was like...

KING: You were fighting back against...

BANKS: ...hilarious.

KING: unflattering tabloid photo of you, remember, in the swimsuit?


KING: You've lost weight since then.


KING: Do you still feel an image pressure?


KING: Do you think -- you think like a fat person?

BANKS: I -- I don't, actually. You know, when I -- when I told the world to kiss my fat -- I can say "ass" right?

KING: Yes, you can.

BANKS: Yes. When I told the world to kiss my fat ass, I remained that size for two years. I maintained it with my ice cream and my salad with ranch dressing and croutons and bacon bits. Like I -- I didn't look at myself -- even on television -- and think that I was too big or, I don't know. I didn't -- it didn't connect. But since, I have lost a lot of weight. And it started with the -- a weight loss challenge, actually, at the top of this year. So I'm two years after kiss my fat ass.

KING: But as you described, croutons, ranch dressing...


KING: You sounded like you missed it.

BANKS: I love it.

KING: Aha.

BANKS: I love...

KING: Do you make substitutes?

BANKS: ... Food. Yes. I mean, I still have my Caesar salad, I just do it with some balsamic vinaigrette and extra parmesan cheese, maybe so much where they're like, do you want a little bit of lettuce with your parmesan cheese salad, Tyra?

But I -- I did this challenge with my friends. There was about eight of us from "America's Next Top Model," some past talk show people and some friends. And we were sitting around a table and kind of trash talking and decided to do this challenge because we're -- we all love food. And I trash talked so much where I had to win. And I did.

KING: When you look in the mirror, are you happy with the way you look?

BANKS: I've -- OK, I might be doing a little TMI -- do you know what TMI is?

Too much information. I always feel...

KING: Well, give it to me anyway.

BANKS: I always feel great when I don't have clothes on. So at home, by myself, walking past...

KING: I'm imagining that now.

BANKS: It's too much information.

KING: OK. Got it. Yes.

BANKS: But I always feel good that way.

KING: So you don't look at yourself nude and say, oh, I don't like this?

BANKS: No...

KING: You like it?

BANKS: ...unless the lighting is bad in a dressing room.


BANKS: But, no. I -- I always feel good. But sometimes certain clothes, when I put them on and they don't fit the way that I would like them to, that's when I tend to get self-conscious.

KING: Would you say you're a particular person?

BANKS: Yes, but not with my physical image.


BANKS: Particularly with my work.

KING: All right. You kicked off season five of your talk show by revealing your real hair.

Let's watch this.


KING: All right. Let's watch.


BANKS: Let's talk about my hair right now. I know it's been a big mystery. And I was like, it was an unsolved mystery. And I felt like I needed to solve this mystery. Like I've worn weaves and wigs and pieces and clip-ons and clip-outs and clip-downs and arounds since I was 17, 18 years old. And I wanted to show the real me. I wanted to show the raw me. And I had just got out of the shower -- beat the face first, of course, y'all and then came out of here and came on this stage. And this is me, y'all. This is me.


KING: How did that feel?

BANKS: Oh my God, it felt so liberating. It felt so liberating. I have worn fake hair since I was 17 years old.

KING: Extensions and all that...

BANKS: Extensions, weaves, wigs -- I mean just everything. So to be able to be myself, it just felt liberating and free. And -- but I also did it because I feel like I have a responsibility. There's so many young girls that come up to me and say, Tyra, I want to look just like you, and I don't look like me, you know, when I go home...

KING: Is this -- is this real?

BANKS: Yes. This is me.

You want to feel my scalp?

KING: Yes.


It's a little kinky in the scalp. That's like real black girl hair.

KING: That's black girl hair.

BANKS: But -- go -- go in there.

KING: Oh, yes, yes.

BANKS: Yes. That's...

KING: Oh, this is -- this is kind of kinky. It's kind of kinky.

BANKS: Yes, it's kinky. Exactly. My natural hair texture is very kinky.

KING: By the way, is bad hair different for black women than white women?

BANKS: A bad hair day?

KING: Yes.

BANKS: For black women?

You know, hair...

KING: Because the hair is different, right?

BANKS: Yes, the texture is very different...

KING: Yes.

BANKS: As you saw.

KING: Sure. It is.

BANKS: You felt my real hair texture.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: This is straightened. This part is straightened. This part is not, inside.

But I mean, hair, for black women, we spend $9 billion a year on hair products -- black women do. And, you know, so growing up as a young girl and seeing images in the media where they're saying that a certain type of hair is beautiful and yours isn't is very difficult for a black woman -- for black women. And it's a -- it's a long political thing that we can do a whole show about.

But I felt it was my responsibility to show as much of my real hair as possible. Now, my natural texture is a lot kinkier, but it's chemically straightened.

KING: Black men, too, right?

BANKS: Black men and hair?

KING: Black men used to change their hair a lot, try to...

BANKS: Oh, that's like the '40s and '50s...

KING: Years ago, yes.

BANKS: the conk and Malcolm X and all that.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: Yes, but black men tend to like it pretty natural now. The Jheri curl is dead.

KING: Does it feel better to be natural?

BANKS: It feels better to be natural, but it -- I'll have to admit, it is hard to upkeep it. Like, you know, when I work out -- when I wear wigs and weaves, I work out and, you know, you just wash it really fast and you keep -- you go, because you're putting fake on top of the real. With my real hair, I mean, I -- I -- for years, I forgot why black women were running from the rain. Like, why are you all running, I don't understand, because I had wigs and weaves. Now, it rains, I run.

KING: How do you look at you now?

I mean, with all that's happened to you, do you kind of pinch yourself?

BANKS: I -- I'm starting to learn to celebrate success. Like, for...

KING: You should.

BANKS: Yes. I'm -- I'm learning that because I'm -- I'm very driven. Like, you know, whenever I see like a young girl that has issue or an insecurity or something, I'm like, oh God, I've got to tackle that now, I've got to do that. So I'm always like pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing. But I had to realize to stop, take a vacation, go to dinner, go to the movies, like enjoy my success. So I'm...

KING: Do you like celebrity?

Do you like being a celebrity?

BANKS: The one thing I like about being a celebrity more than anything is being able to get into any restaurant I want. That is...

KING: That's the best.

BANKS: That is the best.

KING: And the table ain't by the kitchen.

BANKS: Oh, it ain't by the kitchen. It -- you know, what I don't like about celebrity is people quote us higher, Larry. You know, if this cup doesn't really have a price tag on it, they see Larry King and Tyra Banks coming, this cup is now $10 when it's really worth $2.50.

KING: Yes. That -- we pay -- that's everyday, yes.

Tyra Banks is our guest.

We'll be right back.



KING: We're back with Tyra Banks, who's -- who's everywhere, doing everything.

In July, "Forbes" magazine ranked you as the fifth most influential woman in the media behind Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Ellen DeGeneres.

BANKS: My mama sent me that article.

KING: Do you want to be number one?

BANKS: Oh, gosh, I don't think it's possible.

KING: Did it flatter you?

BANKS: Heck, yes, it did. Yes. My mom sent this to me and she says, oh my God, look at this. I still find it a little odd, though. It -- but it's very flattering, but odd. It's...

KING: How does mom feel?

BANKS: My mama is so proud.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: Yes. I -- I can always tell when she's tearing up. And when she sent that to me, I know that she was tearing up.

KING: And, in fact, even "The New York Times Magazine" branded you as the next big female-branded self.

Have you become -- you don't need your last name anymore, right?

BANKS: I'm over my last name.

KING: That's when you made it. All you've got to do is say Tyra.

BANKS: I'm -- I -- I don't -- I -- you know, as a model, I was Tyra Banks, my -- my given name that my parents named me. And then after a while, we decided, as a model, to drop the Banks because that was the cool thing to do -- Veruschka, Iman, you know, all the big models had just that one name. And then I decided to use my last name again. And now I'm over it. I -- I -- I...

KING: So what are you now, Tyra or...?

BANKS: Just Tyra.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: Just call me Tyra.

KING: What is your brand, do you think?

When you merge into so many things...

BANKS: Yes...

KING: ...who are you?

BANKS: I -- you know what, I, you know, had a long time to really think about that and to really go into what my core values are. And my passion is really dealing with women -- young women and women in general. And I finally figured out that my brand is beauty inside and out. And it's inside and outside. To just say, oh, we're only going to focus on the inside is not realistic when it comes to young girls, because their physical self is so important to them -- so, so important. And just to focus on the outside wouldn't be like dealing with who I am in my core.

So, I think -- I really think it's beauty inside.

KING: Is there a down side to being beautiful?

BANKS: Ah -- is there a downside to...

KING: Well, for example... BANKS: Are you calling me beautiful?

KING:'re single.


KING: Some men feel they can't approach you.


KING: Or, I can't ask Tyra out on a date.

BANKS: Yes, that -- that happens. But the ones that do, you know, either they are very cocky or very confident. Yes.

KING: But you're not alone on Saturday nights?

BANKS: Am I alone on Saturday nights?

I don't know.

KING: I don't think so.

BANKS: You don't think so?

KING: You were cast as the first lady in a layout in the September's "Harper's Bazaar."


KING: What do you...

BANKS: Last year.

KING: ...what do you think about Michelle Obama?

BANKS: Oh, my gosh, when -- do you remember when she delivered her speech?

KING: Sure.

BANKS: It was amazing. And I just sat there and I teared up. And I called my mom and I said, mom, no offense, but Oprah Winfrey is my role model, you're my role model and I have a new one.

I find her to be the epitome of elegance, of class and of...

KING: She sat in that chair three times.

BANKS: She did?

KING: And every time she makes an impression on me.


KING: You cannot not... BANKS: She is so...

KING: ...think highly of her.

BANKS: impressive.

KING: Yes.

BANKS: An amazing mother, protects her children like, you know, like, you know, do you -- you know, they didn't ask for this. They just so happened to be the first children of our country. I -- I find her absolutely amazing.

KING: I learned a few weeks ago that she only works two days a week.

BANKS: Really?

KING: The other five are the kids' days.

BANKS: Wow. Yes.

KING: She's a mother first.

BANKS: She's a momma. And I love that about her. And her hair is fantastic.

KING: Oh, yeah.

That real hair, right?

BANKS: It's real hair. Yes, she wears her real hair. But if she wants to rock a weave, Larry, who cares?

She doesn't, but if she does, who cares?

KING: What about the way she dresses?

BANKS: I love it. I love the fact that she pushes the envelope on what the narrow box is of what a first lady is supposed to look like. That's what I'm all about -- redefining beauty, breaking stereotypes, being your own person, being your unique individual.

KING: So you kind of thread a line.

What did you make of Jimmy Carter's recent remark that part of the reason for this anger at the president is racist?

BANKS: Yes. I, you know, honestly, have not seen it. But I have read a lot of what has been going on recently. And I have to kind of go with what our president says. You know, he says, in terms of health care, there's -- you know, it's very volatile. You know, certain people believe this, certain people believe that. And a lot of things maybe can get misconstrued or a lot of things -- I don't know. I have to really defer to him on that because I think he (INAUDIBLE). KING: But based on heritage, did you ever feel, in your life, looked down upon because of your color?

BANKS: Most definitely.

KING: So you...

BANKS: That's just the state of where we are at right now.

KING: You have to carry that with you.

BANKS: Most definitely. But it makes me stronger. It makes me stronger. And it makes me open up my arms with love as opposed to feeling angry about it.

KING: You faced it in modeling, didn't you?

BANKS: Most definitely. Every single day of my modeling career I was told I couldn't get a job or do certain things because of the color of my skin.

KING: Unbelievable.

BANKS: Every single day. Even as one of the top supermodels of the world, I heard that.

KING: You were the first black on "Sports Illustrated's" cover, right?

BANKS: Yes. And Victoria's Secret and a bunch of other stuff.

KING: You're the Jackie Robinson of female modeling.

BANKS: Oh, am I?


KING: I hope -- I hereby declare it.


KING: Lots to talk about. Still America's Top -- Next Top Model.

We'll talk about that, too, in 60 seconds.



BANKS: The next thing we have...


BANKS: A crystal ball. OBAMA: Oh, that's nice. That -- let me take a look at that.

BANKS: What do you see in your future, Senator?

OBAMA: It says I see the White House right here.



KING: We're back with the terrifically talented Tyra Banks.

"The Tyra Show" is now in its fifth season. It's earned two daytime Emmys for outstanding, informative talk show.

Here are some of Tyra's more memorable moments.



BANKS: It looks like me, but I can't really feel it.

My name is Tyra Banks.


Say that again.

BANKS: My name is Tyra Banks.


BANKS: Can we have some change, sir?

Excuse me, sir, we have -- can we have some change?

(INAUDIBLE) and this is like (INAUDIBLE) there will be all kinds of food and I'll be (INAUDIBLE).




BANKS: So in this cage right now, I'm going to unveil it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one you might not want to pet, because there's...

BANKS: Oh, my -- my God. Oh my gosh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've almost got a little bit of a little Will Smith going.

BANKS: Don't be jealous, Will.

Do you want to give me a kiss?





So I have something to say to all of you that have something nasty to say about me or other women that are built like me -- kiss my fat ass.


KING: By the way, do you like being on CW...

BANKS: I love...

KING: ...rather than syndicated?

BANKS: Yes. Well, the talk show has now moved to the CW...

KING: I know.

BANKS: ... Which is the same network as "Top Model." And it -- I love it because it's like all one big happy family.

KING: And it gets a low demographic -- a demographic of young people, right?

BANKS: Yes. And our ratings are huge right now with the talk show. Like, we're number two, 18 to 34, which is our demographic for the talk show. Women that are younger and older watch the show, of course. But -- so our advertisers are very happy.

KING: Congratulations.

BANKS: Thank you.

KING: Tyra interviewed Chris Brown long before the now famous incident with Rihanna. Ahead, we'll get Tyra's thoughts on Chris and Rihanna, so stay with us.



BANKS: Can you see me?


On the count of one, two, three -- bitch.


KING: A program reminder. Michael Moore tomorrow night. Michael Moore, a special guest, tomorrow night.

And our special guest now is Tyra Banks.

When singer Chris Brown was accused of beating up his then girlfriend Rihanna earlier this year, a lot of people recalled an interview he had done with you. Chris was our guest earlier this month. We played a clip from that interview and asked him about it.

Watch and then we'll get -- give me your reaction.




KING: Chris, the February 8th episode shocked a lot of people for a lot of reasons, including the fact that Chris had spoken out about his mother having been a victim of domestic violence.

Here's some of what you told Tyra Banks. This is all before all the incident.



CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: It affected me, you know what I'm saying. Basically, especially toward women. I treat them differently because I know -- I don't want to -- want to go through the same thing or -- or put a woman through the same thing that that person put my mom through.


KING: What happened?

BROWN: I made a mistake. I made a mistake in my -- and it's just something that I have to live up to and -- and own and just know that -- know that I can change and be a better person. But I -- I definitely made a mistake.


KING: What's your read on that whole story?

BANKS: Yes. First, it was very shocking when I first heard that it happened. You know and there are so many rumors in the entertainment industry. And I was like, oh, that's just a rumor. And then more and more, you know, police evidence and things come out and photos and things. And I just was like in shock.

For -- for a moment, I was in shock. And then I went back to the interview that I had with Chris Brown. And he told me that he experienced this abuse of -- of not his father, but I think it was -- I think it was a father figure. I'm not sure, but not his biological father -- on his mother. And that he was so scared, you know, hearing his mother scream and in so much pain...

KING: And he heard things.

BANKS: And he heard it.

KING: He didn't see her hit.

BANKS: He didn't see it, but he would always hear it. And he was so terrified that he said that he would wet his bed. And he became a -- a bed-wetter for a long time -- an embarrassingly long time. And he admitted that to me.

So when I heard that, I said, wow, the cycle is repeating. That's the first thing I thought.

KING: So do you feel sorry for him, angry at him?


KING: What?

BANKS: Both. You know, I feel sorry for him because we all know, when I've had -- you know, I've covered domestic avi -- domestic violence, especially with teens, on my talk show. And we do know that it is a cycle. You know, when you experience something, there is a large chance that you are going to become the perpetrator.

So that is where the sympathy goes out, because he is a victim. But at the same time, your reasoning for being, you know, for doing something does not excuse the fate of somebody else.

KING: Were you shocked that a lot of his female fans blamed her?

BANKS: There's a -- right now and in society, especially with the Internet and -- there's a lot of negativity that goes on.

KING: Oh, yes.

BANKS: And a -- and it's -- it is such a safe place to just say craziness. You know, a lot of it can be, you know, then maybe, you know, Rihanna is so beautiful and she's so fantastic and she's so lovely and she's got this great voice and this great career. You know, so maybe it's easy to just go, ah, you know, it's your fault.

But I don't necessarily think that a lot of those girls really truly, truly believe that behind their computers, you know, these... KING: Have you ever been physically abused?

BANKS: No, not physically, but emotionally.

KING: Psychologically?

BANKS: Oh, most definitely.

KING: Verbally?

BANKS: Most definitely.

KING: How did you handle that?


KING: I mean...

BANKS: Dumbly.

KING: ... Some would think a beautiful girl like you is going to take abuse?

BANKS: Yes. Yes.

KING: You took abuse?

BANKS: Oh, most definitely, for years. You know, the abuser is -- is a person...

KING: From a boyfriend like?

BANKS: From a boyfriend. Well, you know, there's four different types of abuse, which I teach my girls on my show -- there's sexual, there's verbal, there's emotional and there's physical. And I was emotionally Abu -- abused; a little verbal, but a lot of emotional. And what -- you know, I didn't necessarily think it was my fault, even though he would constantly tell me, I treat you this way because you make me treat you this way.

I didn't think it was my fault, but at the same time, I wanted to prove to him that I was loveable enough, because my self-esteem was lower at that time in my life.

And I stayed for such a long time, until one day I looked in the mirror and I -- out loud, in his house, said to myself, I said, Tyra, what is wrong with you?

Who are you?

Get away from him. I said something like that to myself. It still took me months to get out, but I finally did. And now I have young girls from the -- from the -- from the girls that are not famous to girls that are in the entertainment industry that come to me because I've told this story and many other stories about insecurities and things that I've had... KING: You've been stalked too, right?

BANKS: Yes. But you didn't let me finish.

KING: All right. Go ahead.

BANKS: No, I was saying they -- a lot of these girls, they call me and like I become kind of like a big sister to these girls to go -- to help them with a lot of these different things that they're going through, in the entertainment industry and not in the entertainment industry.

But now, what were you saying?

KING: Do you ever fear it could happen to you again?

BANKS: It will never happen again.

KING: Never?

BANKS: Never. Thank God it did happen, because I know what it feels like. And I know the signs of me feeling less of a person and that I could be susceptible to that. An abuser always say that they're like -- like a heat-seeking missile. Like they can scan a room and know, like it's like, boop-boop-boop-boop-boop-boop-boop- boop-boop-boop-boop-boop. Like they know who the abuser is and they know who to go after. And the missile would go like this to me. It would never come back.

KING: Our good friend, Dr. Drew, has written a brilliant commentary for us on civil rights and gay marriage. Take a minute and read Dr. Drew's insights by going to our blog. It's at

Back with more of Tyra right after the break.


KING: She's everywhere, Tyra Banks, the executive producer and host of "America's Next Top Model," airs Wednesday nights on CW. She has recently launched an online magazine called "Tyra: Beauty Inside and Out," has her own, of course, talk show, "The Tyra Show," that's on CW.

Now you do a show with our friend, Ashton Kutcher? What do you do with him?

BANKS: Yes, Ashton Kutcher and I, we created a show together called "True Beauty," and we're executive producers on it. It's a show where the contestants think that they are competing to be the most outwardly beautiful person, but really they're competing to be the most internally beautiful person.

KING: Is it on now?

BANKS: It had a season and was very successful and it's coming back. ABC renewed it. So it's coming back.

KING: Not the CW?

BANKS: No, it's on ABC.

KING: Uh-huh. In a recent interview you said you wish you were more of a diva.


KING: Define diva.

BANKS: Well, I didn't say that, somebody asked me, was I one? And I said, no, I wish I was more of one. But I would never just say that quote.

KING: What is a diva to you?

BANKS: Different things. I mean, a diva can be a recording artist that just, you know, can sing her butt of and does not need any Auto-Tuning or any computerized vocal help. That commands a crowd. That brings people to their knees. And then there is also the negative connotation of it.

KING: Like Serena Williams, was that a diva attitude or --


BANKS: Oh, gosh, no, that was an athlete, a competitor. And it's so sad that, you know, Serena does something like that, it's a diva, and if a male athlete does something like that, he's just being competitive and emotional. So it's bad.

KING: It is true in a recent interview you were asked if some of the negative stuff said about you might stem from jealousy. And you -- it said you sidestepped the question. Is that true?

BANKS: Yes -- no, I was asked that question that there was some negativity that was said about me from some people that I've hired in the past for one of my shows. And I asked the person that was interviewing me, similar to an interview like this, I asked them why they think these people were saying these things about me. And I pushed the person because I interview people for a living. And sometimes, sometimes when you ask a question, you have spot, you know, you have an opinion.

So I was asking the interviewer's opinion. The interviewer said it was jealousy, I didn't say that.

KING: Do you listen to answers? It's the key to interview --

BANKS: I do.

KING: Yes, absolutely.

BANKS: Oh my God, Larry, when I first started, I would not listen to answers. I would just be thinking about my next question, thinking about the next question.


KING: -- get lost.

BANKS: Now I just listen. Sometimes throw away my prep.

KING: Do you think you intimidate people? Do you?

BANKS: Yes, I think so. I think so.

KING: What can you do about that?

BANKS: Be myself. And most definitely try to pull away from as much of the image that they think that I am. I think the intimidation probably comes from my past career, you know, because I used to be a model and model stands for so many different things, especially the type of modeling that I used to do, supermodel, sexy, roar. And that's like a character that I used to play. It's not me at all.

KING: When a model is a supermodel, let's say, Sports Illustrated bathing suit, Tyra Banks, does it sell the suit rather than sell yourself?

BANKS: As a model, you are selling the outfit. And I do think that super models, the reason why they're paid so much is because they move the product more. So when --

KING: They check that, they know that.

BANKS: Yes, I know that when I was on -- when I was with contract, a Victoria's Secret model for 10 years, that the reason why they paid me what they paid me was because I moved the product. If it was on me, it would sell more than if it was on somebody else.

KING: So therefore the woman -- because the man --


KING: -- looking at it would look at you in the face --


KING: -- and then down to the suit. The woman --

BANKS: Yes, well, 90 percent of Victoria's Secret buyers when I was there, it was 90 percent female. Guys, you know --

KING: They look at what you're wearing.

BANKS: They look at what you're wearing, yes.

KING: What makes a good model.

BANKS: Larry, a good model, I think she needs to know how to smeyes (ph). KING: How to --

BANKS: Smeyes. You know what that is?


BANK: Smile with her eyes. To smile with your eyes. You have to be able to sell a magazine cover or sell that perfume or sell those clothes, and it all starts with the eyes. I actually did an interview with Lynn Hirschberg from "New York Times Magazine." And she was like, Tyra, I hear that you know how to smile with your eyes so many different types of ways.

And she coined that I can do 275. I'm not sure if I can do that many.

KING: Are you smiling now with your eyes?

BANKS: No, I'm not. Do you want me to do it?

KING: Yes.

BANKS: Do you want me to do it to the camera?

KING: Yes, do the camera.

BANKS: All right, so this is not smeyesing (ph), OK? It's just dead eyes. And this is smiling with your eyes.

KING: Do all the good models do that?

BANKS: Yes, all the good models know how to do that.

KING: You can't trademark that.

BANKS: I wish I could trademark that. I could not trademark the actual image.

KING: Why do the eyes sell the product?

BANKS: The eyes, it's all about the window to the soul. If you're just dead, like this, you're not going to sell that eye makeup. But if you're like, "Buy it, buy it, buy it, buy it, buy it." But it's not something that just models -- women can work this. You can get a second date by smeyesing. You can get a job by smeyesing on that job interview.

KING: Wait a minute. Can men smeyes?

BANKS: Oh, yes, you can smeyes, Larry. Will you try? No, too intense. Soften it. Soften it. Yes, yes, yes. Not with the lips. Only with the eyes. Novocaine mouth. Novocaine mouth. Dead mouth. Squint just a little bit. Not with the lips. Dead lips. Dead lips. Eyes. Nice. Work, work, work, work. Yes, you did it. You're doing it.

KING: Jeez, I'm falling in love with myself.


KING: We'll be right back.


KING: We have a Tweet question for Tyra. Do you Tweet?

BANKS: Oh, my God. I love it. I follow you.

KING: It's a sickness, isn't it?

BANKS: Yes. You have to, like, control yourself, or else it will consume your life. I've done shows on Tweeting on the talk show and had people that were addicts on. But I didn't know what tweeting was yet, so I was very judgmental, like, oh, my God, just put it down. I mean, I don't understand.

I get it now. I love it.

KING: It's an addiction, right?

BANKS: I love it. I love being able to connect to people. It's hard for me to walk down the street --

KING: There ought to be a Tweet hospital to get people off it.

BANKS: Oh, my God, it should.

KING: Tweet for treat. Treat for treat.

BANKS: A twospital.

KING: A twospital.

BANKS: A twospital.

KING: All right, we have a question Tweeted to us for you.


KING: "Ask Tyra what she misses most about her life as a model."

BANKS: Oh, my gosh. I miss absolutely nothing about my life as a model. Hi, Tweet family. I miss absolutely nothing because I have a show that I can mentor girls and teach them every single thing that I know, so I don't miss it at all. At all.

KING: Isn't a lot of it boring?

BANKS: It doesn't push me creatively as much as I would like. Towards the end of my modeling career, I remember some of the clients, you know, in between shots, they would look at me and they'd go, I know. Meaning, I know you're done.

KING: It's over.

BANKS: I know you're done. Yes, I know you're ready go.

But you know, I like producing and creating. And I'm in the business now of creating stars. I'm more interested in that than building my own --

KING: You've pretty much kept the same male judges, right, throughout the whole "Top Model" career. How does that work? Female judges, you've gone through, right?

BANKS: There are five judging spots on "America's Next Top Model." There's myself, there's -- right now -- there's Miss J., and there's Nigel. But the -- was that -- no, that's three. I'm sorry. There are four -- that are four permanent or semi-permanent spots. The pot of the -- the spot of the female established, almost retired, legendary super model is something that's my goal. So every couple of seasons we cycle that -- that position.

KING: How does that show --

BANKS: We've had Twiggy --

KING: Why is that show so successful?

BANKS: I think it's successful because it pulls back the curtains on a world that seems so intimidating. A world that people thought was rapid. A job that people thought took absolutely no skill. And we showed the world that it is -- it is a skill.

I think it's also popular because I have made sure that I do not have just stereotypical beauty on the show. It's my passion in life. It is -- one of the reasons why I feel like I was put here is to redefine beauty, to open up the doors. So I feel like I have struck gold and I have reached my goal when young girls are looking at "Top Model" and going, oh, if she can model -- if she can model, I can model, because it's saying that it is not the cookie cutter of beauty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. I just started breaking down crying, Tyra. She just looked so like a complete Barbie doll.

BANKS: I am the --


BANKS: I am looking for someone to light my chariot of fire. I am looking for America's Next Top Model.


BANKS: Those girls on "Top Model" this season, they're 5'7" and below. Our shortest girl is 5'3".

KING: Would a show on top male models work? BANKS: No.


BANKS: I don't think so, because you can't name five male super models in the history of modeling. I mean you can if you're a fashion person. But if you're just, you know, a person that's not obsessed with the fashion industry, you can't, which means that the public does not really want to see that. I don't think.

KING: Are you big in the gay community?

BANKS: Am I big in the gay community?

KING: Yes, I mean, you know, as -- a lot of gay people follow --

BANKS: Oh, got it.

KING: Yes.


KING: Are you --


KING: Are you big?

BANKS: Yes. I thought you meant am I like -- my butt juicy and I was like, what are you talking about?

KING: No, no, no.

BANKS: I feel an affinity with the gay community. And you know why? It's because being a black woman -- a black woman, I tend to connect with different areas of disenfranchised people.

KING: You not kidding me?

BANKS: And I got a Glad Award for that, for the representation of the gay community in "Top Model" and the talk show.

KING: That's -- I was proud of that. We got one too.

BANKS: You did?

KING: It was very nice. Yes. Just -- there are an oppressed minority.

BANKS: Yes, I agree. And I feel like it's a minority that all other races collect together, you know, to pay it again.

KING: More with Tyra after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with the one and only Tyra Banks. Back in the early days of CNN, there was a feature called "Style with Elsa Klensch." In 1993, Elsa profiled Tyra. Watch.

BANKS: Oh, my God, you're pulling them out. Wow.


ELSA KLENSCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nineteen year old Tyra Banks uses her chameleon-like ability to changer her attitude as often as she changes her clothes. One minute, she's shy and demure. The next, sulky and sexy.

You're moving up fast to be a super model.

BANKS: So people say.

KLENSCH: How do you feel about it?

BANKS: It doesn't go to my head. I always stay grounded and I take it as a profession, because it is a business. It's very temporary for me. I have to always keep that in mind.

KLENSCH: How many years do you hope to have as a model?

BANKS: I would like to reach my peak when I'm 23 or 24, like five years from now, I guess, and move on to something else.

I'm going to leave before they tell me to leave. I'm not going to be hanging around and going lower. I'm going to be up there, get out, and go on about my business.


KING: OK. You haven't seen that in 16 years.

BANKS: I don't know how long that's been. I'm laughing because the things that I'm saying.

KING: Sixteen years.

BANKS: I said I was going to retire from modeling when I'm like 23, 24. I retired when I was like 30. So I'm laughing at that. But I still stuck by the thing of saying, I'm going to leave before they kick me out. That's very important.

KING: Remember Elsa?

BANKS: I loved Elsa Klensch. I learned how to walk watching her show. My mom and I used to wake up at 6:45 every morning because she would come on at 7:00. She'd come on again at 10:00. We'd watch both. This is before like VHS and stuff was really popular. And we would watch both. I'd put on my mom's heals. I would practice walking. So when I was profiled by her, I was freaking out.

KING: Thrill of a lifetime. BANKS: Freaking out. She is a legend.

KING: Felt great watching it now, didn't it?

BANKS: That was interesting watching that. Yes, it was a little -- little one.

KING: Tyra's going to be on "Gossip Girl." Who will she play? Stay with us and find out.


KING: Now we mentioned "Gossip Girl." It's a program I'm not familiar with. What is it?

BANKS: Yes. "Gossip Girl" is a very popular show on the CW and it takes place on the upper east side of New York City and it's based around these very wealthy, super wealthy families and the teens in their lives. It's one of my favorite shows.

KING: And what are you going to be on it?

BANKS: I play an actress by the name of Ursula Nyquist, who's a little eccentric. She's a little roar. And Serena, played by Blake Lively, kind of comes to my aid and helps me out.

KING: Do you like acting?

BANKS: I only like acting when I get to act crazy. I don't like -- like I have some scenes where I'm like over the top and like "Ahh!" on this "Gossip Girl," and I am much more comfortable with that than the scenes that I have with Blake Lively where I'm just like, "Hey, how are you doing? Yes. It's so great. So good to meet you." I'm like nervous and freaking out when I have to be normal.

KING: So therefore you wouldn't do a romantic comedy unless the character was nuts?

BANKS: Yes -- unless she was out of her mind. It has to be like physical comedy. You know, the kind where the girl is like crawling under the table because the boy that she loves just came in the room and she doesn't want him to know she's there. She's like, "Oh my God!" Like anything physical and comedy, I'm very comfortable with that. Normal girl-next-door, like, "Hi!" oh gosh!

KING: What's with the magazine?

BANKS: My online magazine? I have been asked to do a traditional magazine for five, six years, all the top female publishing houses. But I felt that, you know, the generation that -- that I really, truly connect to is really on the Internet. And I said I'm going to do an online magazine. It's at, and it's all about beauty inside and out.

We have fun, though. It's not just like -- it's like Top Model where there definitely is medicine in there, but there's so much candy going on it's just a fun experience. And every month the theme -- the theme changes. October theme is actually going to be about modeling.

KING: We have a Twitter question, via King's Things. When is Tyra going to get married?

BANKS: When am I going to get married? I don't know when I'm going to get married.

KING: Do you want to get married?

BANKS: Marriage is not the most important thing in the world to me. I didn't grow up as a young girl saying, "Oh, the white horse is going to come rescue me."


BANKS: No. Also there's so much divorce -- I want to make sure that if I get married I'm going to stay married. So that's probably why I'm not married.

KING: So now how do the tabloids treat you?

BANKS: They say I'm married all the time, engaged --

KING: They got you married to someone?

BANKS: Oh, yes. They got me engaged. They -- this is my class ring right here. They're saying this is the ring and --

KING: What class is that?

BANKS: Ninety-one. High school. Immaculate Heart High School.

KING: Where?

BANKS: Los Angeles, California. Yes. So that's my --

KING: All these high school rings are alike -- black and little gold and --

BANKS: Yes! I don't -- and I don't -- How did they think this was a -- This ring cost 200 dollars. I don't get it.

KING: What about that other ring? That very small ring.

BANKS: This one cost $10. I got this at $10 -- for $10 at Nova Ice here in New York City.

KING: Ten dollars?

BANKS: Ten dollars. I have them in every color. I have a whitish one. I have a brown one. I was just shopping yesterday on the street. I got a bunch of, like, cheap jewelry on the street.

KING: Well, we -- we're not sure about marriage. What about kids?

BANKS: Oh gosh! Definitely children.

KING: Would you adopt without being married?

BANKS: I -- I -- I remember a quote that Angelina Jolie said, and I connected to her. She said that she has an uncanny connection to children that are not necessarily from her. So I'm open to adoption, I'm open to having my own children -- and I'm not against marriage, I just haven't been married yet because I don't -- I don't glamorize it how a lot of young girls do. And so, like, someday my prince will come.

KING: There's a definition for that. It's called smart.

We're going to get before she leaves Tyra's reaction to Kanye West and Taylor Swift when we come back.


KING: Tyra has so many things going on. She has the challenge on her website. I'll ask her about that before she leaves us. But before she does, what did you make of the whole Kanye West thing?

BANKS: Oh -- You know, I didn't actually see the VMAs because I was in a place that did not have television, trying to enjoy myself and relax. But then the texting started coming. "Oh my gosh, you have to see this! You have to see this!" So when I got back to New York City I went on YouTube and -- and saw it. And, you know, it was -- it was not the most positive situation.

And later I saw Kanye on Jay Leno, and I found it interesting that he was so honest and said that he has some issues and he needs to figure out something to do with what this life is all about for him. So that just let you know that there's somebody hurting and crying inside and -- and trying to figure it out by doing huge public things.

I -- I was really proud of Taylor, though. You know, she's a baby. She's a kid, you know? And she was kind of speechless for a while, and then Beyonce graciously gave her that stage and she was -- I was just really proud of her because she's so young and I -- I do feel like that -- She grew up, you know, and became an adult in the matter -- in a matter of, like, an hour.

KING: What's the website challenge?

BANKS: I have a challenge on On the first week of America's Next Top Model, we did a photo shoot that I've been wanting to do for a while where we took pictures of all of the models as babies, and then we had them recreate that photo high fashion. And I love all young girls, you know, and I wanted everybody to be able to participate in this, not just models. So I have a challenge on -- on where you send in a baby picture and a photo of you recreating it.

I'll be interested to see you recreate some of your baby pictures. Do you have -- did you wear suspenders?

KING: As a baby?

BANKS: Yes. As a kid.


BANKS: You didn't?


BANKS: And then I wanted to ask you something else. The suspenders -- are they for fashion or do they really hold your pants up?

KING: Fashion.

BANKS: Really? So you have a belt on?

KING: No. I don't have a belt on.

BANKS: Oh, so you have the pants be tightened on the sides?

KING: No, they just have buttons.

BANKS: Oh! But they don't -- but the pants are tight enough where they don't need a belt or suspenders?

KING: Correct.

KING: Why don't you wear braces?

BANKS: Oh -- should I wear?

KING: Yes.

BANKS: OK. Red ones?

KING: Yes, what the --

BANKS: OK. I'll do a Larry King shout out. I swear I'm going to wear -- I'm going to wear suspenders or braces.

KING: OK. What do you think of Ellen coming on of --

BANKS: American -- American Idol? Oh my gosh, I --

KING: Good choice?

BANKS: -- am going to watch her, actually. I -- I cannot wait to see what she's going to say. And I -- she's like -- she's not a singer. She doesn't know about singing, but she -- you know, she can dance. And I think she's going to entertain the hell out of everybody. I really do. I really do.

KING: What haven't you done you want to do?

BANKS: What haven't I done? I -- I want to do so much. KING: I know.

BANKS: I -- Yes. I want to be able to bring the modeling experience to young girls everywhere, that you don't have to look like a model to play model. And I have some great ideas for that. I -- I want to go into the publishing world. I love real estate. I don't like to spend money, so I get $10 rings, but I will spend it on property. And there are things that I want to do in that space, to explore real estate.

I want to -- so much. Do you have like another hour?

KING: Give me your hand. You're a doll. You are a doll.

BANKS: Thank you.