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Tyra Banks On Her New Sports Illustrated Cover: "This Is A New Me"

"This is a new me, this is an older me, this is a thicker me, this is a wiser me, this is a thankful me."

Posted on May 9, 2019, at 11:09 a.m. ET

Taylor Miller/BuzzFeed News

Supermodel Tyra Banks has revealed why she decided to return to modeling after announcing her retirement from the fashion industry 13 years ago.

Banks landed herself on the cover of the highly coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue Wednesday — a spot where she made history in 1997 when she became the first black woman to appear solo on the magazine.

“I decided to come back to Sports Illustrated because it is the magazine that changed my life,” Banks, 45, said in an interview that aired Thursday on AM to DM, BuzzFeed News’ morning show on Twitter.

“I was a very known model, high fashion model," she said, "but I got on the cover of SI and it made me a household name, almost like in 24 hours, back when the whole world was looking at the same thing all at once.”

"I felt like I needed to walk away from them before they could break up with me." @tyrabanks talks about why she retired from modeling — and why she's back

Banks, who is also now working to build a modeling “theme park” called Modelland, said she retired from the industry when she was 32 years old because she believed she was no longer a hot commodity.

“However, with Modelland and everything that I’m saying about beauty is all ages, all sizes, all this — yet I left the industry because of age, I needed to say, ya know, let me put myself where my message is,” Banks said.

Tyra Banks was the first black woman to grace the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in 1997 solo, and now she's doing it again for the 2019 cover. The black is not cracking!

Her return to modeling comes with a new name, according to Banks, who said her new model name would be “Banx,” with the X symbolizing crossing out preconceived notions about what qualifies as beautiful.

“This is a new me, this is an older me, this is a thicker me, this is a wiser me, this is a thankful me,” she said. “It’s all shades, it’s all ages, it’s all sizes, it’s all sexual orientations, it is everything — and I’m putting that on my back with that X.”

Modelland (which has been referred to as a theme park, though she says it’s more of “an attraction") will open in Los Angeles at the end of the year with the goal of “taking modeling to the masses' and making fashion more accessible.

“Everybody can come to Modelland and be the fantasy versions of themselves, discover their unique beauty, have us validate their beauty while they are having fun,” Banks said.

Attendees will be able to dress up and be models for a day, participate in fashion shows and photo shoots, and shop.

“It is an extravaganza,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Tyra Banks:

Full interview: @tyrabanks joins #AM2DM to talk her iconic @SI_Swimsuit comeback, why she retired from modeling in the first place, and how she's bringing modeling to the masses with Modelland

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.