How Tyra Banks is helping end the supermodel shortage. Thanks to UPN the newly titled creator and executive producer is looking out for ''America''

By Dan Snierson
May 23, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Don’t hate Tyra Banks because she’s beautiful — hate her because she’s an ambitious 29-year-old supermodel who’s the creator and executive producer of ”America’s Next Top Model,” UPN’s weekly competition (debuting May 20) that brings the winner one step closer to learning all of Victoria’s secrets. But is she ready for her close-up with a reporter bearing stupid questions?

We’re all familiar with the region known as the Outer Banks. Will you take us to the Inner Banks?
The Inner Banks has a cold, and her nose is full of snot right now.

That’s sexy. Will ”Top Model” offer up never-before-seen behind-the-scenes moments, like when the girls are all curled up with Sartre texts, discussing continental existentialism?
That’s what it’s all about. The trend of modeling is moving away from the external into the internal. So you’ll be seeing a lot of whatever you just said.

You’re also a judge on this series. What’s a bigger faux pas for a contestant: a bad bikini wax or a runway wipeout?
Wiping out on the catwalk. You can put a little concealer on a bad wax job and it’ll cover up the redness, but you can’t really retouch busting your ass on the runway.

How does it feel to be breaking down huge walls with this show?
I think a lot of people thought I was going to be a figurehead or not really know what the hell I was talking about…

Actually, I was talking about you being the first hot chick ever to appear on UPN.
No, the ”Buffy” girl is hot. Isn’t she?

Never mind. Shall we play Math for Models?
Are you going to try to prove that I’m stupid and give me some kind of E=mc2 bulls — -that I’m not going to be able to solve?

There are 33 stalks of celery, 14 Wonderbras, and 7 sleazy photographers. If Claudia, Elle, and Naomi each had five stalks, three Wonderbras, and two sleazy photographers, what does that leave you with?
Umm, okay, wait…. That leaves me with 34 somethings.

Close enough. What’s the hardest part about being a supermodel: modeling or fighting crime?
I don’t have an answer for that. [Laughing] That’s just stupid.

And now for the stupidest question of all: You, me, Friday night?
[Nine seconds of awkward silence]

Hello? All I get is silence?
Umm, I have to, umm…I can’t. I’m sorry.

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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