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Supermodel Tyra Banks recently reflected upon her alleged rivalry with Naomi Campbell during an in-depth interview with the Wall Street Journal.

After chatting about Tyra Banks’ retirement from modeling and her journey into business and television, the interviewer mentioned the episode of the Tyra Banks Show where Banks brought out Naomi Campbell to be interviewed on her audience-less set.

That was followed by Banks being asked about the alleged “manufactured rivalry” between her and Campbell.

“No. It wasn’t a rivalry,” Banks responded.  “I’m very sensitive to that word because a rivalry is with two equals to me. Whereas one was very dominant. She was a supermodel and I was just some new girl that got on a plane from Paris and was studying fashion in magazines at a fashion library.”

Banks went on to reflect upon how she was disappointed by the fact that someone who she highly admired and studied (Naomi Campbell) wasn’t giving her a warm welcome into the fashion and modeling industry.

“I had very painful early days in Paris. As much as I was booking every single fashion show, people didn’t know that I was going home at night crying my eyes out because the woman that I was looking up to seemed like she just didn’t want me to be there and was doing everything in her power to make me go away,” Banks explained.

NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 09: Models Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima, Selita Ebanks and Alessandra Ambrosio pose on the runway at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the 69th Regiment Armory November 9, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

“And I didn’t understand that as a young girl, like why is she doing this. This is so evil. This is so awful. The adult me understands that she was reacting to an industry that was all about a token.”

Banks then juxtaposed the culture of the modeling industry when it came to new white models versus how the culture was different when it came to new black models.

“When this one girl, Kate Moss came on the scene, they weren’t telling Christy Turlington you better look out Kate Moss has got some high cheekbones like you do Christy. When Shalom Harlow came on the scene, they weren’t telling Linda Evangelista lookout another brunette is on the loose. But when I came on the scene, Naomi look out there’s a black girl that’s going to take your spot. Only one spot available.”


Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.