Skip to main content

Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell didn’t get off to the best start when they first met back in the ’90s.

When Banks entered the modeling industry as a young teen, she expected Campbell to welcome her with open arms — especially since they were the only Black supermodels at the time. But much to Bank’s dismay, that didn’t happen, and instead, she felt ostracized by the in-demand supermodel. Fast-forward a few years, when Banks invites Campbell onto her daytime talk show where they clear the air about their strained relationship.

Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell
Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell | Michael Buckner/Getty Images for NAACP

Banks claims she and Campbell never rivaled each other

Banks didn’t feel welcomed by Campbell when she began modeling at the age of 15 and previously opened up about that pain during a 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Since they were the only African American supermodels at the time, Banks expected to establish a close bond with Campbell. But to everyone’s surprise, the supermodel’s didn’t become BFFs right off the bat, spurring the idea that the two had a supposed “rivalry.”

Though Banks has disputed that rumor over the years, she recently recalled how the British model did “everything in her power to make [her] go away.”

“It wasn’t a rivalry,” Banks told The Wall Street Journal. “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.”

The America’s Next Top Model host continued, saying she felt the tension between herself and Campbell during their early modeling days.

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

As a young model, Banks didn’t understand why Campbell was mistreating her but grew up to realize that that was typical behavior in the modeling industry.

“The adult me understands that she was reacting to an industry that was all about a token,” she continued. “When I came on the scene, ‘Naomi look out, there’s another Black girl that’s going to take your spot.” 

Tyra Banks confronted Naomi Campbell during her talk show

In 2005, Banks invited Campbell to appear on her talk show, The Tyra Show, where they cleared the air on their long-standing conflict.

Immediately after thanking The Face mentor for coming onto the show, Banks launched into her accusations. The talk show host first brought up the time Campbell had called her the “B-word” backstage at a fashion show they were both walking in.

“You called me the B-word and said ‘We have a photoshoot to do in Anguilla and it’s not going to be pleasant if you’re talking about me like that,” Banks told the model, who was unable to hold in her laugh.


How Tyra Banks Teaches Her Son About Positivity & Acceptance of ‘Different Types of Women’

Campbell defended her remark by claiming that she had heard the “tail-end” of Banks’ conversation about her (the model shared that she was gushing about Campbell while on the phone with her aunt) but still apologized to the fellow model.

Banks also accused Campbell of telling her, “You’ll never be me. Don’t think you can be me,” backstage at a fashion show. Campbell denied this accusation saying, “I’m not someone to go and give myself away and say that to anybody. I’ve never said that in my life.” She then added: “If that’s what you remember, I accept that person, but that doesn’t sound like me to people who know me.”

By the end of the episode, it was clear to viewers that Banks had held in years of hurt and was finally letting the pain of being unaccepted by her idol out in the open.

Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell put their differences to rest

After Banks confronted Campbell on national television, it appeared as though any tension that was between the supermodels before had finally disappeared.

In March 2007, the models attended the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards and were photographed striking their best model poses side by side. 

Six years later in January 2013, Campbell praised Banks during an interview with ELLE, telling the publication: “I’m proud of her as a woman of color. She’s given girls opportunity, and God bless her.”