While several finalists — including cycle 5’s Mollie Gondi and cycle 1’s Elyse Sewell — have worked consistently on runways and in magazines around the world, “It’s an opportunity to set the tone for future years,” Gants says of her win.“I’m ready to set the bar and do something different…Since relinquishing hosting duties to Ora last year, Banks made a cameo on Wednesday’s episode (only her second on-camera appearance across the show’s 23rd cycle), helping her successor choose which model hopeful — editorial stunner India Gants or branded businesswoman Tatiana Price — would strut magazine’s Drew Elliott, and stylist Law Roach begged her to stay. Good luck.” Recalling Banks’ former glory at the head of the panel, the moment injected a new-and-improved cycle with a nostalgic rush, but also served as a fitting metaphor for the 43-year-old’s involvement in shaping ’s ever-evolving identity.Though her name still appears in bold letters at the tail end of the show’s opening credits (she’s the creator and executive producer, after all), Banks has been inching closer and closer to the outer edges of the “It wasn’t that hard,” Banks says, speaking exclusive to EW, of stepping away from the gig, something she’s wanted to do since the show’s eighth cycle began in 2007.(Read our full interview with Banks here.) She even had a successor in mind; Banks brought an unnamed heir apparent (she won’t say who) to The CW for a series of interviews, but her lawyer ultimately talked her into staying — for 14 more cycles.“It’s something that’s been on the tip of my fingers for so long, so it wasn’t necessarily difficult [to let go]. I wanted the show to continue; I wanted to keep it new.
’s inaugural season in 2003, the show hawked itself as a producer of legitimate modeling talent, though few fashion superstars have emerged from its ranks.“I don’t really think so,” Banks responds when asked if she’d ever front the show again.“I’m hoping that we can continue to be successful where we are.“I had mentors telling me in order to expand your production company and have new things, you have to delegate.You create and you move on, so that’s where I am right now with the show is more overseeing in general,” Banks — she now juggles a cosmetics line, dubbed Tyra Beauty, a production company, and an upcoming teaching gig at Stanford — admits.