Tyra Has Bankable Future

By Ronda Racha Penrice
|  Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM PDT
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Tyra Has Bankable Future

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Tyra Banks Emmy Award

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Well into its fifth season with no indication of trouble, Tyra Banks has announced that this will be the final season of "The Tyra Show". Of course tongues are wagging. This news comes so unexpectedly. Didn't Tyra just kick off this season with fervor? It may have been small to other parts of America but appearing weave-less on television for an entertainment figure whose rarely been seen without her hair was indeed a bold move. So why did the fire fizzle? What has happened to make this season her last?

Blame it on Oprah I say. She's made it look easier than it actually is. Coming in and out of people's homes on a daily basis is tiring. Having something of interest to talk about every single day for the majority of the year is no easy task. Even harder is stretching across so many lines. There's no arguing that Oprah has appealed mostly to women and that sounds relatively simple but when factors like age, socioeconomic background and ethnicity also come in play, her longevity is even more awesome.

Some people are born to do what they do. In the first season of her show, Tyra attempted to bond with her guests personally as Oprah often does. That's not a bad thing but, again, it's just not as easy as it looks. There's not much that Oprah couldn't relate to -- she'd been poor, sexually abused, discriminated against as a black woman and as a woman who was far from supermodel size. Like many people, she's had relationship challenges and she's also wanted to lose more than a few pounds. Whenever she talked to celebrities early on, she never shied away from the questions the general public wanted answered. Unlike Tyra, she had not been in the limelight prior to launching a talk show.

It's a full-time job, Oprah has often maintained. It's one of the reasons she's never married Stedman, her longtime beau, in an official sense and also why she hasn't had children. Being on for everyone and giving your own family the kind of time they require, especially as a Southern woman of a certain age was raised to do, is just impossible. Tyra has made it no secret that she'd liked to be married and have kids one day although there's been no indication that that desire played any role in her decision to call it quits.

I have to admit that, though I've never been a big fan of "The Tyra Show", I have championed her fight against unhealthy body image, especially as it relates to young women. Like so many others, I cheered her decision to don a bathing suit and have her guests follow suit with their weights plastered in plain view in 2007 to counter tabloid declarations that she was fat. I still think it was a very gutsy move. After all, there's hardly anything shameful about a woman who stands nearly six feet tall weighing in at 161 pounds and, shame on the "them" who have made it so. One cause does not make a talk show hostess though and I suspect Tyra has learned that the hard way.

What's most important is that Tyra fought the good fight. Let's be honest, her show lasted longer than most of her critics predicted. It's safe to say that they never thought she'd receive two Daytime Emmys. If she wanted her show to continue, it could. Tyra didn't go out because no one was watching. Young women, mostly in their teens and early twenties who form her core audience, are coveted by many advertisers. "America's Next Top Model" is still going strong enough to enter its 15th cycle and "True Beauty" is returning for its second season.

Oh her Website, she writes of launching her own studio, Bankable Studios, to fulfill her other dream to produce movies. Rising from Inglewood, California to become one of the world's most recognizable models and parlaying that star power into television success behind the scenes is not a feat to take lightly. Like her or love her, one thing is certain -- Tyra Banks has shown young women everywhere that there's no harm in reaching for the stars. With her track record and friends like Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry advising her, it's not a stretch to say that her stint as a film producer is also bankable. Oprah might have the Midas touch but there's nothing wrong with mining a whole lot of silver.

For more stories from The Grio, go to thegrio.com.

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