Banks’ journals are partly a self-help guide, partly a TV textbook and partly a way to organize a highly hectic schedule. Her self-named syndicated talk show ends this month after a five-year run and two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show ; remarkably, America’s Next Top Model is now finishing up its 14th cycle; and Banks’ company, Bankable Enterprises, is eager to enter the teen-publishing business as well as to produce feature films and additional TV series.
Despite a frenetic lifestyle, Banks attempts to live a highly organized life. Her office domain is almost frighteningly immaculate, with eight perfectly propped, colorful pillows lining the large L-shaped sofa. Kooky pottery from kitsch designer Jonathan Adler is placed strategically in the room (“I like whimsy,” she says). And every Fiji Water bottle, orchid plant and framed family photograph is set neatly in its place. She slowly sips a Starbucks beverage and speaks in deliberate tones, later letting her hair down and laughing about “the hood” where she grew up, in Inglewood, Calif., as the subject of LA soul food comes up.
Darting from subject to subject isn’t unusual for Banks, whose diverse interests range from good eating (she’s a walking Zagat guide) and interior design (she’ll often attend real estate open houses for decorating tips) to pop music (she released a 2001 single with basketball great Kobe Bryant and performs Top Model’s theme) and acting (she’s had parts in a half-dozen movies, including Coyote Ugly, as well as on TV shows such as Felicity and The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air). By now, Banks’ meteoric rise to success has been fairly well documented, and with all her TV shows over the last year (her résumé also includes ABC’s True Beauty, the second season of which premieres at the end of this month), her annual haul was estimated at $30 million. That’s nothing to burp about.
Given her lifestyle moves, combined with the volatile roller coaster of the television business, a good title for Banks’ future autobiography might be Subject to Change. But that book has yet to be written. Instead, American Way took a cue from her stack of journals, each of which uses various tabs to mark subsections about different subjects, to give a glimpse into the varied parts of Banks’ world.
When you’re a supermodel, travel comes with the territory. Banks’ various gigs across the globe have turned her into an exemplary jet-setter .
“The first thing I’ll do on a plane after sitting down is to see who’s on the cover of American Way,” she says. “I’ll also put on thick, cushy socks when I fl y. And then whenever I sleep, I’ll cover up my face, because I’m afraid of seeing a picture someday on the Internet showing me with my mouth wide open and drool running down my chin. I learned that from Halle Berry, by the way: Put the blanket over your head when you sleep on a plane!”
Bradford Sisk, production vice president at Bankable and a longtime aide, says Banks especially enjoys colorful world capitals such as Amsterdam and Bangkok. “When we go abroad for Top Model, she’ll have every travel guide highlighted and underlined,” he says. “If we’re not working, there’s not a moment when we’re not seeing all there is to see in that city.”
But Banks says she prefers spending personal holiday time in the United States, citing Orlando, Fla., as her somewhat surprising ideal vacation spot in the world. “I want to see all 50 states, but so far I’ve only been to around 25 of them,” she says. High up on her to-do list: lounging in splendor at the Encantado Resort in Santa Fe, N.M. “I love that city,” she says.