Tyra Banks reflects on being ‘the Oprah of modeling’ as she teases a potential runway return

Following her appearance in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, 50-year-old supermodel Tyra Banks is considering returning to modeling “for real for real.”

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Tyra Banks attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2024 Issue Release and 60th Anniversary Celebration at Hard Rock Hotel New York on May 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

Tyra Banks is looking to be “America’s Next Top Model” — again. While celebrating her appearance on Sports Illustrated’s 60th-anniversary “Legends” cover, Banks reflected on her career and return to the publication. 

“It feels crazy, like, I’m 50 and [Sports Illustrated is] 60,” Banks told Extra. “I love being … somewhat like the older model on set. I don’t know why I do, but I feel like a sage. I feel like the Oprah of modeling, you know what I mean? I feel like I’ve been here, I can teach you guys things. So it feels, it feels really good.”

Banks first appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1993 and, in 1996, became the first Black woman to pose on the cover of the publication’s swimsuit issue. Since then, the star built a career breaking barriers and lifting the veil on the modeling industry. Though she’s built a name for herself in various industries as an actress, producer, author and entrepreneur, Banks still has a soft spot for modeling. 

“[Lately,] I don’t feel like I’m modeling, but people keep telling me that I should do it again, so I’m thinking about maybe doing it, like, runway and stuff,” she exclusively told Extra. “We’ll see … I’m thinking about really, really modeling, for real, for real. Like, fashion shows and … covers of magazines that are not Sports Illustrated.” 

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While the Sports Illustrated cover star was serious about potentially returning to the industry, she joked about her body being able to keep up with a modeling comeback. Having experienced sciatica pain, which causes injury and pressure on the nerve connecting the lower back and legs, Banks revealed not being able to walk and experiencing hip pains. 

“[Let’s] hope that my hip is here for it and … that I can get the right lighting so the front of my thighs with the cellulite is not showing as much,” she said jokingly. “We’ve come a long way when it comes to beauty empowerment and inclusivity, but y’all will still hate on me in the comments about the cellulite on the front of my thighs.”

Despite the physical challenges and changes she’s experienced, the model wears the age of 50 like a badge of honor, describing it as empowering.  

“I’m poppin’. I am not insecure about myself. I ain’t trippin’…I could not wait to be 50 because I felt it was a rite of passage to be my true self,” Banks said, reflecting on her golden birthday year. “Now, I speak my truth. I demand respect. And it feels good. I can’t wait until 60 comes along because I’m probably going to be cursing everybody out.” 

Feeling confident and free, Banks is using her wisdom and experience to uplift others. Ahead of the SI 60th-anniversary photoshoot, the veteran model reportedly gave another one of this year’s cover stars “deep, deep advice, career advice on how to take her stuff to even the next level,” which she said made her made her feel good. 

For Banks, being a part of the publication’s swimsuit legends represents “busting down the door so other people can come through.” Just as Banks supported her fellow cover star, she told Sports Illustrated that women should “use their platforms if they’re in power to lift the next generation up.”