Tyra Banks doesn’t do things quietly. She’s stomped the runway in feathers and glittery bras, appeared on two consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covers, and built an empire (in 170 countries, no less), coaching others to do the same. So when it comes to starting her first makeup line, it wasn’t going to be a palette of boring nude eye shadows. Instead, picture vibrant fuchsia lipsticks, jet-black liquid liner, and highlighting and contouring sticks. I hopped on the phone with Banks to find out more about Tyra Beauty—here’s what I learned.
1. Her first job was as a photo lighting and makeup assistant—when she was 12. “My mom was a medical photographer, but on the side, she did a before-and-after glam photography business in the house. She would do makeup and hair—and I was her assistant. When I was 12, I would hold the brushes and the light meter and the reflector. So I learned about makeup, and I learned tips and tricks on how to shade faces. This was before retouching.”
2. She did her own makeup at fashion shows in the ’90s. “A lot of models would see me doing my face and ask me to do theirs. Even girls older than me and well-known—it’s just my passion. I went through an obsession with eyebrows. I used to paint my eyebrows really, really strong. I look back now, and some were a little bit strong.”
3. She took a break from fashion during the ’90s grunge phase. “I heard some of the top five girls complaining that designers weren’t using us because this new grunge thing was happening, and it was anti-supermodel. The designers didn’t want to pay these big fees. I wasn’t panicking because I always had plans to do different things. At the time, it wasn’t announced yet, but I had signed on to be on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I was like, OK, while these designers are taking a bit of supermodel break, I’m going to act, so I’m all good.”
4. Her solo Sports Illustrated cover was a disaster—at first. “I flew to Turkey and did a photo shoot in a small town with all these guys around me drinking tea, and I was walking around in bikinis. They were looking at me like I was crazy. And then I left, and I went home, and Sports Illustrated called me and said the pictures were unusable. I was like, ‘What?’ And they were like, ‘Can you get on a plane tomorrow and go to the Bahamas and shoot with this new photographer Russell James?’ I get there and the weather is awful. It’s overcast, raining, and this new photographer is cute but he’s kind of inexperienced. Every time he shows me a Polaroid, they’re dark and I’ve got dark circles under my eyes. But then the sun came out, and we did a whole bunch of pictures. And a month later, that was the cover.”
5. She went to Harvard Business School specifically for Tyra Beauty. “A lot of people were wondering why I went to Harvard Business School, and I couldn’t say why. I was like, ‘I’m just trying to be a better businesswoman.’ Actually, I went because I was going to start this cosmetics business and wanted to make sure I had all the tools in order to create it, launch it, build it, lead it, grow it.”
6. And by the way, it’s all self-funded. “It’s not a licensing deal. A lot of deals in our industry are licensing deals. You go to a company; they pay you a fee. You sit and you develop stuff with them, and you put it out. Mine is a 100 percent entrepreneurial venture, no licensing. There’s no person that’s paying me. It’s all 100 percent self-funded.”
7. She designed all the Tyra Beauty products in stick form. “I know some women are intimidated by makeup. That’s why all the Tyra products are in a stick. She can just throw it in a bag and put it on. It’s just drawing on your face. It’s going back to first grade and learning to draw—you’re just doing it on your face. That was really important to me.”
8. She’s still intimidated by liquid liner. “It is a constant bad experience with eyeliner. I am intimidated by that eyeliner in a pot. You have to take a brush and wet it and then dip it in and get it straight. It’s just a mess. And so our tip on Tyra Beauty Oops Liner is amazing. It’s got that felt marker tip. And you can sharpen the wing tip or correct mistakes on the oops side. It’s like, ‘Haaaaa, cue the angel music.'”
9. For the last time: She’s never had breast implants. “One time Niki Taylor came up to me backstage at a fashion show, she was like, ‘Can I ask you something?’ I’m like, ‘What?’ She was like, ‘Did you get your boobs done?’ And I’m like, ‘No, girl.’ She was like, ‘They’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger every season.’ And I am like, ‘If they’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger every season, am I getting implants every few months?'”
10. And she doesn’t have a thigh gap either. “I don’t have a thigh gap, never had a thigh gap, never will have a thigh gap. If you do want to create space between thighs in a photo, stand with your feet pigeon-toed six inches apart and bend your knees. Crop the photo at midthigh. But do not change your diet.”
Tyra Beauty is available on tyra.com and hsn.com. Banks will also host a two-hour makeover special on HSN on November 7 at 10 P.M.
For more on celebrity and designer beauty lines, check out:
• Gucci’s First Cosmetics Line Is Here! And It’s Stunning
• Brooke Shields on Her New M.A.C. Collection
• Kim Kardashian Dishes on Her New Makeup Line