Tyra Banks opens up about turning down Victoria's Secret contract: 'I can't believe I did that'

·2 min read

Tyra Banks has had a storied career as a supermodel, actor and business mogul, but even she admits she had to take some big risks to reap the rewards of success.

In an interview with BUILD Series, the 46-year-old says that looking back, there are choices she’s made that surprise her to this day.

“There's things that I did in the past, that I’m like, ‘I can't believe I did that,’” Banks admits. “I retired from modeling ... I left Victoria's Secret runway when there was another contract on the table for me to continue for three years because I felt like I really wanted to focus on being a talk show host and hosting America's Next Top Model and put all my energy there.

“I left a lot of money on the table,” she says. “So I look back at that like, ‘Whoa, that was pretty ballsy …’”

Still, Banks has always been known to push the envelope, elevating and empowering people who don’t fit into conventional beauty standards.

“A lot of people in the fashion industry weren’t happy that I was doing this. They weren’t happy that I had girls on [America’s Next] Top Model that were shorter, they weren’t happy I had girls on Top Model that were thicker,” she adds. “A lot of people weren’t even happy that I was giving people an opportunity that were from farms, the hood and the trailer park ... They were like, ‘What is she doing and opening up our world. How dare she?’”

Banks says she still loves to “challenge societal norms.” Now, with her latest endeavor ModelLand, a fictitious modeling school, she wants to open up the world of modeling even further with an immersive experience.

The price for admission for the Santa Monica, Calif. attraction, which is set to open in winter 2020, begins at $60 — but can go up to $1,400 for a subset of people who really want to “be physically transformed.”

“Everybody that has a camera phone, to me, is a model. You have social media? You are a model. When you come to ModelLand, we’re going to take it to the next level and take that selfie game and that photo game to 10.”

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