Tyra Banks is adding "graphic novel creator" to her lengthy resume

By Aili Nahas and Eric Todisco
August 01, 2019 07:51 PM
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Tyra Banks has her sights set on her next endeavor — a graphic novel!

The TV star and businesswoman, 45, released the news in February that she would be opening a modeling amusement park, named Modelland, later this year. Now, Banks is casting real people for an upcoming graphic novel, which is based on Modelland, her 2010 young adult novel that she wrote about her life.

“I wrote a book, Modelland, many years ago and this graphic novel is based on that, but different,” Banks tells PEOPLE.

“We wanted to do a graphic novel because we feel like the audience is very visual, so we want to tell the story with visuals in a medium that they can connect with,” she says. “I’m not sure if my core family of fans and the future Modelland family of fans are comic book readers so I said let’s flip it on its head and use real people who will be used in the graphic novel, through a combination of photographs and drawings.”

Banks said she “coined it Comic Couture,” and notes that they are looking for a diverse cast to play the characters.

Tyra Banks
| Credit: Brian Ach/Getty

“We are dropping new characters every day at 10 a.m. [through Monday] and they are all very diverse and we are casting for each of them,” Banks says. “The reason I started Modelland is I want to bring modeling to the masses. I want everybody to have the opportunity to be fantasy versions of themselves. I am beyond excited!”

Banks also shared the news in an Instagram post on Thursday, as well as on her Instagram stories, where she announced the casting plans for the graphic novel after calling it a “massive secret project.”

“It’s a graphic novel, Modelland’s graphic novel that will tell the story of Modelland through amazing characters, and one of them can be you. And get this, this is not your average graphic novel. This is high-fashion, meets comic illustration.”

Banks then explained to her followers that they can get discovered by posting a full face shot, profile shot, and full body shot on their own Instagram pages with the hashtag “Modelland,” as well as the character they wish to be cast for.

The graphic novel will be available timed to Modelland’s opening, which has yet to be revealed.

“You’ll be shook when you discover who’s publishing w/us! We are all about doing things 1st and this is just a taste of the OG stuff we will be bringing to you!” the former America’s Got Talent host teased in a press release.

Set to open later this year, Modelland is reportedly going to be a multi-level 21,000 sq.-ft. space in Santa Monica Place (an open air shopping center) that will feature retail shops, dining destinations, interactive entertainment and more.

“Modelland is going to be a place where the modeling world meets fantasy, meets entertainment, meets technology, meets retail, meets dining, meets … your fiercest best self you could ever imagine,” Banks told Variety in February.

In an interview with WWD, Banks explained that her latest project is just an extension of what she’s been promoting her entire career — inclusiveness.

“I created [America’s Next] Top Model to expand the definition of beauty based on my own pain of being told ‘no’ that I couldn’t do something because I’m curvy or I’m black. My empathy for women in general increased through the experience,” she explained. “And now with Modelland, I’m taking it 10 steps forward, giving people the opportunity to engage with the elusive world by opening it up to everyone. Men, women, families, all generations can come and enter this model world for a day, have a fun shopping experience, and an eventful meal. This will be the first of many.”