Tyra Banks allowed me to ask her two whole questions, and I asked the wrong ones

America’s Next Top Model judge and producer Tyra Banks was so excited to talk about the new season of her show that she allowed me to ask her a whole two questions last night.

I approached her at the press tour party for CBS, The CW, and Showtime–an event that literally exists only for journalists and critics to interact with talent and producers, though there are food and drinks to lure stars and journalists alike–during a stretch when no one else was around her except her entourage. I asked if I could talk with her about the new season of her show.

Tyra made a face that suggested I’d asked if I could model for her and barfed on her dress. She said she needed to ask her publicist first. The entourage coaxed that woman over to us, and she looked at me accusatorially and said, “Where are you from?” examining my name tag as if she was a TSA agent looking at ID. Then she declared: “Two questions.”

I said, “Just two?” Thankfully, to my great relief, that didn’t count as a question. But I did manage to ask three questions in the less than two minutes the whole interaction took, sneaking in a follow-up, though Tyra kept me on track when I was asking my second real question (but actually question number three), “This is the second question!”

I’d transcribe all of what she said but her responses (sample answer: “the guys are very competitive and they are coming for the girls and getting in their face”) turned out to be less interesting than the process, though I did appreciate the moment of humility when Tyra said, “I actually don’t really pay attention to reviews unless they’re good, and so now the reviews this cycle are insanely, amazingly good, and they’re all saying the addition of the boys and how we’re producing is like no other, and one of them said Top Model is back on top.” (I couldn’t find that review online.)

Anyway, the real tragedy is that all the responses I should have given to the “two questions” rule came to me later, some with the help of Twitter. They include:

  • Two questions? How about zero?
  • Really? You’re at a press event to promote the 20th season of your CW show that no one cares about any more and has resorted to gimmicks and you can’t even talk to the one person who wants to interview you about it at this particular moment?
  • Do you know how to count questions because you’re now a graduate of Harvard Business School? Oh wait, that’s not actually true.
  • “How about one question…in seventeen parts.”
  • As Survivor‘s Stephen Fishbach suggested, “How are you able to make even this casual interaction so insufferable?”
  • Be quiet, Tyra! Be quiet! Stop it! I have never in my life yelled at a girl like this. When my mother yells like this it’s because she loves me. I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! How dare you! Learn something from this! When you go to bed at night, you lay there and you take responsibility for yourself, because nobody’s going to take responsibility for you. You rolling your eyes and you act like it’s because you’ve heard it all before–you’ve heard it all before–you don’t know where the hell I come from, you have no idea what I’ve been through. But I’m not a victim; I grow from it and I learn. Take responsibility for yourself.

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.