By Joey Nolfi
December 01, 2018 at 01:33 PM EST
  • Movie

On the town, at the mall, Life-Size star Tyra Banks loves Amy Schumer’s Golden Globe-nominated movie Trainwreck — enough so that the 2015 comedy actually laid the foundation for producer-star Banks’ creative inspiration as she began conceptualizing for the beloved TV movie’s upcoming sequel.

“This has been in the works for five years. Five years ago I had a meeting with the Disney Channel and they wanted to redo Life-Size, and it took five years to make sure the script was right,” Banks said of the film — a continuation of the 2000 original starring Lindsay Lohan as a motherless child who accidentally brings a Barbie-like doll named Eve (Banks) to life with a magical spell — during her recent appearance on PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing. “The premise is my idea [for] Life-Size 2. I love Freeform so much because they were so open to my ideas. I was like, ‘You know the movie Trainwreck? Let’s be inspired by that and how there was just a person who was just a hot mess and needed some help to pull herself together.'”

She used that inspiration to craft the character of Grace (grown-ish actress Francia Raisa), a 25-year-old-wild-child-turned-CEO of her mother’s toy company — the same firm that launched the Eve doll. Banks says it was important for her to fold her own business experience into the narrative to “show that women can be badass business people” alongside men.

“[Grace] inherits this CEO title from her mother who’s incarcerated. She’s the youngest CEO of a publicly traded company [in the film],” Banks continues. “[Eve] comes to her life and says, ‘Yeah, you’re mother’s in jail, yeah, things aren’t going great, maybe you didn’t want to be the CEO, but claim your name, fight those fights, you’re going to be majestical in the power that you have.'”

Banks, who’s currently raising a three-year old son, York, also wanted to incorporate commentary on sexist standards for men and women in the workplace.

“When a mother is a very busy mom, people kind of vilify that, but if a dad is busy it’s like, oh, he’s just doing what a dad is supposed to do,” Banks explains. “So [Grace] has a scene with her [mother] and she’s like, ‘Mommy, you were busy.’ And the mom was like, ‘I was building a frickin’ empire. Where was your daddy? I don’t see you complaining about him not being around.’ So it’s a backdoor female empowerment.”

Life-Size 2 premieres Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Freeform. Watch a portion of Banks’ Couch Surfing appearance above, and check out EW’s comprehensive coverage on the Life-Size sequel here.

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