Tyra Banks says Naomi Campbell was 'evil' to her early in her modeling career

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Tyra Banks burst onto the modeling scene in the early '90s, but not everyone was ready for that smize.

Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell (Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Full Picture)

Banks has talked about the unwelcome reception she received from fellow catwalker Naomi Campbell before — a whole episode of The Tyra Banks Show was devoted to the drama between them — but she discussed it further in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal. She said Campbell was "awful" and "evil" to her and tried to end her career.


Banks spoke of her “very painful early days in Paris." While she booked 25 shows during her first runway season in 1991, she said, "People didn’t know I was going home at night crying my eyes out because the woman 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 said Campbell, who soared to stardom in the late '80s, was "so awful" to her. She recalled thinking the British model’s behavior was "evil."

Banks was also quick to clarify that, in her mind, there was never a rivalry between them.

“It wasn’t a rivalry,” Banks, 45, said of Campbell, 49. “I’m very sensitive to that word because a rivalry is between two equals to me whereas one was very dominant, she was a supermodel, and I was just this new girl that had got on a plane from Paris and was studying fashion and magazines.”

Banks did say that she now realizes that the industry pit them against each other. It was as if there was "only one spot available" for the “token” black model.

"When I came on the scene, [it was]: 'Naomi, look out. There’s a black girl that’s going to take your spot,’” Banks said.

She added that it wasn’t the same for the white models, including Christy Turlington and Kate Moss: “They weren’t like, look out, another brunette is on the loose.”

In 2005, Campbell appeared on Bank’s daytime chat show and the women got candid about their decade-long feud. In it, Campbell apologized for the way she made Banks feel.


And while the women — who have worked together, including at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows — made nice, Banks said in 2016 that “to this day, I’m very scared of her.”

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