Banks and her Norwegian boyfriend, photographer Erik Asla, recently appeared on the Norwegian talk show "Skavlan," where she recalled her early days in the modeling industry.
The 42-year-old model said she was turned down by six agencies before the seventh finally signed her. Soon, she was on her way to Paris to model on the runway, but not everyone welcomed her.
"I got to Paris, and it was very difficult. I did really well really fast, but then the industry was saying, 'Oh, look out Naomi Campbell, here comes Tyra Banks! So Naomi Campbell, sit your butt down. This younger one is coming to take your place.'" Banks remembered. "It wasn’t fair to Naomi, but her response was ... to this day, I’m very scared of her. It was very difficult, like some of my lowest times of my life dealing with that."
Years later, when Banks was the host of her own talk show, she invited Campbell on as a guest and asked her about those times.
"She said, 'You know what? I'm sorry,' and I just cried like a baby," Banks said. "Just to hear that after so many years of pain and dealing with it ... to hear that apology meant the world to me. She has no idea what that did for me."
Also starting out, Banks had to deal with her shifting shape.
"My agents in Italy gave [my mom] a list of designers that did not want to hire me anymore because my body was getting thicker," Banks recalled. "And she showed me this list of designers and I just started crying and said, 'Oh my gosh, Mommy, what do I do? Am I supposed to like starve myself? OK, maybe I won’t eat any bread anymore. Just salads with no dressing, salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner.'"
Her mom had a different response. "'She says, ‘You know what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna eat pizza.’ And she took me to a pizzeria in Milan, Italy," Banks said. "'She said, ‘You write down every client in this world that likes a--. Your a-- is growing, and I’ll be damned if my baby starves herself for this industry. So we’re gonna go where your a-- is going.'"
Banks soon landed on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and went on to model for Victoria's Secret, quickly becoming one of the top-earning models in the industry.
More recently, she has launched her own cosmetics and skincare line and, in January, became the mother of son York Banks-Asla, with her photographer boyfriend. The couple are waiting for the right moment to introduce him to the public.
"He really is our pride and our joy and our private life," Banks told "Skavlan."