Model turned mogul Tyra Banks gets personal as she prepares for a new chapter.
“I probably talk about my private life more than the average person,” says Banks, appearing sincere and yowza-level beautiful at 10 a.m. as she sits primly on a big sofa in her Manhattan production office. “I get so descriptive about things that most women feel gross talking about, people probably scream ‘TMI! Too much information!’ ”
The model turned media star’s life is hardly an open book, however. She resists divulging romantic details, plays business deals close to the vest and prefers vague generalities when any touchy subjects come up. “Let’s not go there!” said Banks’ publicist off camera (but on microphone) as Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden asked about gripes by older supermodels Janice Dickinson and Paulina Porizkova, who were both booted off as judges from Banks’ reality series, America’s Next Top Model. While her rep ran interference, Banks sat tight-lipped with a nervous “smize” — that’s “smiling with the eyes,” to those unfamiliar with Bankspeak.
If you want to read the book on her, Amazon.com lists a single volume: the glamour guide titled Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out, which she co-authored 12 years ago. It’s mostly a breezy makeover manual with few deep insights into her offstage life. But the sassy you-go-girl dynamo who broke out of modeling and served as Oprah Winfrey’s youth correspondent before creating, executive producing and hosting the reality smash Top Model has written an entire library full of more personal works. They’re journals, actually: small unlined notebooks crammed with important notes, to-do lists, travel tips, talent bookings and more, all penned in extremely tiny, tiny print that seemingly only she can decipher.
“She takes notes all day long,” explains Ken Mok, Banks’ longtime producing partner on Top Model. “She writes down what she eats, inspirational ideas, everything.”
Just don’t expect these diaries to ever be published — Banks blogs on her website, Tyra.com, and is on Facebook, but these journals are strictly for her private use. And she’s so nervous they might get lost or stolen that she often refrains from writing TM-real-I inside.
“I wrote a quote in here the other day,” says Banks, 36, as she leafs through the most recent all-in-one notebook that she carries in a purse crammed with crumpled documents, cosmetics and several other essentials. “Here it is: ‘Produce your life like it’s a show.’ I put that quote in because I’m very good at producing television, and I’m extremely hands-on when it comes to handling my business life. From offstage until the moment I walk onstage, I constantly tweak my talk show and Top Model … but at the same time, I often leave my private life by the wayside.”