Tyra Banks says she's back.
But if you turn on your TV, scroll through Instagram or flip through a magazine, you'll see that while she may have briefly retired from the limelight, her impact never left.
Aside from making waves as one of few Black supermodels in the 1990s, Banks went on to establish one of the longest-running shows in reality TV history with America's Next Top Model. In addition to giving an entertaining glimpse into the modeling industry and birthing iconic GIFs, ANTM essentially laughed in the face of America's beauty standards. If young women of color needed proof that beauty isn't determined by your height, curvaceousness, ethnicity or hood — ANTM was the pudding.
In tandem with her larger-than-life persona, Banks' return to the spotlight was nothing short of dramatic. In May, the model's comeback was marked by the recreation of her historic 1997 Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition cover. Amid her return, which includes a global ambassadorship with Nine West, her new venture ModelLand was also announced.
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ModelLand, based on a 2011 book by Banks, will serve as a theme park in California's Santa Monica mall. It is described as a "first-of-its-kind experiential attraction that will emulate … the modeling world."
"The story that is threaded within the live attraction at ModelLand is all about discovery and diverse beauty," Banks told Blavity.
ModelLand may be a new effort, but its mission to impart the universality of beauty doesn't at all stray far from Banks' platform.
"At ModelLand, yes you'll learn how to take amazing photos…but we will go much deeper than that. Much deeper. It is my hope that ModelLand will elevate your selfie-esteem. Not just how you look in the mirror but how you feel about yourself when you look in that mirror," Banks says on her website.
The narrative behind ModelLand is the overthrowing of an "oppressive leader of the beauty industry."
When considering Banks' career trajectory has aimed to turn the modeling industry on its head, it's not only on-brand — it's also timely. When speaking with Blavity amid another of her newest endeavors, Banks offered some solid advice for young women who struggle with self-love in the Instagram era.
"Internal words of affirmation like 'you’ve got this,' [and] 'hard work pays off,' can go a long way if you make it a point to use them as a part of your daily routine," Banks said. "We are our biggest champions, and self-love starts from within. There’s also something to be said for working from the outside in. Express yourself through fashion or dress for the role you want in life. Fashion can transform your mood and your confidence. My advice is simple – if it’s your passion, never give up. Remember, there’s always a light at the end of a tunnel."
ModelLand was slated to open at the end of 2019, but a specific date has not yet been set.
Oh and as for those GIFs inspired by ANTM? She's seen them.
"They’re both iconic – it’s hard for me to pick [a favorite]," she said.