"I can't come in with a battering ram and try to change everything," says Tyra Banks of hosting and producing the new season of Dancing with the Stars

By Aili Nahas
September 16, 2020 10:00 AM
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Tyra Banks has entered uncharted waters as the new solo host of Dancing with the Stars — but the entrepreneur isn't planning on reinventing the wheel.

"Dancing with the Stars is one of the biggest shows on TV, with a huge audience, and I really respect that," Banks, who is also an executive producer on the hit reality series, tells PEOPLE. "I can't come in with a battering ram and try to change everything. That would be a bad business decision and dumb leadership. So I'm not doing that."

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Tyra Banks
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Continues Banks, 46: "I listened to research, I listened to the fans, I killed half of my ideas and then I doubled down on some of them. We want to implement those ideas but still respect the show — and add a little pixie dust!"

In July, it was announced that former supermodel Banks, who also created and hosted America's Next Top Model, would be stepping in for longtime host Tom Bergeron and contestant-turned-co-host Erin Andrews.

"I have serious shoes to fill," says Banks of Bergeron, 65. "I have respect for him. And when the network called me, I sat on it for a very long time, because I knew what Tom had done. The host is the ringmaster. And I thought, 'Can I bring something fresh and exciting?' I called my mama and she said, 'You need to do this.' So I'm going to bring what I bring!"

Tom Bergeron and Tyra Banks
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Ultimately, says Banks, despite a global pandemic and the challenges of shooting a live show with COVID-19 safety protocols, "this is the right time" for Dancing with the Stars' return.

Tyra Banks on the DWTS premiere
Eric McCandless/ABC

"People need to see hope right now," says Banks, who remains encouraged about the show's future. "We need to exhale, turn off the news and turn on the fun. And we need to dance!"

Dancing with the Stars will air next on Tuesday, Sept. 22. It will return to Mondays the following week on Sept. 28 on ABC.