Tale of Two Tyras: Ex-Model Explains Split TV Persona

Exclusive 'Nightline' interview with 'America's Next Top Mogul.'

ByABC News
September 3, 2009, 10:12 AM

Sept. 8, 2009 — -- Call them "daytime Tyra" and "nighttime Tyra."

By day, Tyra Banks, the supermodel turned television personality, presides over a talk show known for bringing a message of uplift and empowerment to women.

By night, Banks reigns supreme on "America's Next Top Model," a reality show on which contestants are judged by how they dress and the way they look -- just the criteria that "The Tyra Show" attacks as hollow and, at worst, oppressive to women.

It's possible to see two conflicting messages. But Banks says the underlying message is the same.

"I don't think so, because a lot of the time the pretty girl [on "Top Model"] goes home early, or the most photogenic girl goes home early," Banks said. "One of the big, most underlying messages for me is celebrating beauty that is not typical. ... 'America's Next Top Model' is not a bunch of Barbies -- it's a lot of girls that are atypically beautiful."

Watch the full interview with Tyra Banks on "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET

See photos of Tyra Banks through the years HERE.

In the course of her unique career, Banks, 35, has pulled off more than one unlikely transition.

She changed the face of modeling, becoming the first African-American woman to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue and the first black cover model for Victoria's Secret.

She conquered reality TV as the host of "Top Model." And then she proved the skeptics wrong by launching her own talk show -- a model with a talk show? -- and making it a hit. Today she lauches a new lifestyle magazine, Tyra Beauty Inside and Out.

Banks sat down with "Nightline" recently to talk about her younger years, her life as a supermodel and making the switch to TV.

She discussed the potential contradiction between the gospel of self-acceptance on her talk show and the culture of judgment on "Top Model."

And then there were topics she declined to discuss.