Tyra Banks makes $18 million a year; is upset girls see Top Model “as a way to become a star”

Six years after coming up with the idea for America’s Next Top Model in her kitchen, Tyra Banks now “makes an estimated $18 million a year, and her net worth is around $75 million,” according to a New York Times Magazine profile. Part of that is from the 25 percent of Top Model she owns.

The profile follows Tyra as she casts girls for the 11th season, and Tyra said that process “was frustrating,” and as a result, “at Bankable [her production company], we’re cooling on reality shows. In the beginning, the girls were spontaneous. But now everyone looks at ‘Top Model’ as a way to become a star. For the next cycle, they’re going to have to do homework about the fashion business. I want girls I can help become professional models. I don’t want to help girls just become known — there’s no point to that.”

That’s a good thing, then, that none of her 10 winners have managed to become stars or supermodels, even though that’s allegedly the purpose of the competition. Tyra said, “Of course I know what a supermodel looks like, but I also know that a show filled with 13 girls that have the right look and no personality is not going to be relatable or watched. I’m more interested in fighting for the racial mix of the cast. Dark-skinned black girls are usually not famous — if you think of black girls, it’s light-skinned girls like me or Beyoncé or Halle Berry. When I’m casting a dark-skinned black girl on ‘Top Model,’ I’m sending a message to the little girl watching at home that she is beautiful.”

As to her ability to send messages to the world, Tyra said she developed her talk show because “I want power. The power to make change. I have never been interested in being ‘hot’ or ‘cool.’ I’m not interested in walking down a bunch of red carpets, dating someone famous, being in a big movie. I’ve done those things, and it never felt right. But I do want power and not for financial reasons.”

Banksable [New York Times Magazine]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.