Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Woman on Top

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Woman on Top

Article excerpt

WHETHER SHE'S COACHING a transgender aspiring model on America's Next Top Model or putting The Advocate's cover line "Gay Is the New Black" up for debate on her eponymous talk show, Tyra Banks always struts the right side of the runway between exploiting and celebrating gay people. The 35-year-old former supermodel was even honored with the prestigious Excellence in Media Award at the 20th annual GLAAD Media Awards in March. Now sizing up the competition for cycle 13 of Top Model, which premieres September 9 on the CW, Banks shares some drag-worthy beauty secrets and reveals who's still in the running towards becoming her next gay best friend.

You've done so much to educate people about gay issues. What did we do to deserve so much of your attention? I was lucky to be embraced by the LGBT community, and many of them became my dear friends. They've shared the stories of their struggle, pain, and excommunication from their families as well as their triumphs. Those friends have really become a second family to me, and I would never be where I am today without their support.

What did it mean for you to receive the recognition from GLAAD? 2008 was a really big year for me--my talk show won an Emmy, True Beauty [which I executive-produced] became a hit, and Top Model continued to grow--but I have to say that I was incredibly honored to receive that award. I feel so fortunate to have the power to put a transgender woman like Isis on Top Model last year; that was a very proud moment for me, and it took a lot to get there. Of course, there have also been a number of lesbian contestants on Top Model since the very beginning, but I don't pay attention to anyone's sexual orientation; I focus on their modeling ability. And I'm proud to have my talk show as another platform that allows me to address important LGBT issues, so to have that community recognize me for my efforts is very rewarding.

Any behind-the-scenes scoop on the New York awards ceremony? Before the show kicked off, I hung out backstage with my good friend Clay Aiken, who presented me with the award. He's such a funny guy, and he loves making fun of me, so it was great to catch up. I realized I should have made a bathroom stop as soon as I sat down. I didn't want to miss a minute of the show, so I held in my pee for five hours. But my only regret is not powdering my face before accepting the award, because my face was so oily, it looked like I dipped it in bacon grease.


In your acceptance speech you apologized for stealing the word "fierce" from the gay community and then overexposing it. …

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