Monday, May. 08, 2006

Tyra Banks

Everyone knows Tyra as supermodel, as host and producer of America's Next Top Model and her own talk show, and as whip-smart business mogul. She is all those things. But I also know her as a close friend. When I started as an "Angel" for Victoria's Secret, Tyra was already an established pro there. During lunch, I'd grill her about the business: whom she would recommend as an accountant, an attorney, a business manager. Not everyone was, let's say, superfriendly, but Tyra was always nice. She shared her experience and knowledge with me. In this industry there are a lot of people who don't want to help each other, but I guess Tyra was and is secure because she was always willing to share what she had learned — and, trust me, I asked a lot of questions.

That open, warm side of her was more apparent as we became friends and spent a lot of time together at shoots. Tyra and I could always be goofy together and remind each other that, hey, this is fashion, not life or death. On the flip side, when situations got too crazy, we could always turn to each other for a reality check.

I'm not surprised that Tyra, 32, has achieved such phenomenal success. She's one of the most hardworking people I know — I've seen her go straight from a late night of press to an early-morning shoot with no complaints. Even more important, she is passionate about her projects and compassionate toward the people involved in them. Her appeal is obvious to anyone who knows her, whether personally or professionally or just from her shows. She is dynamic, positive and real, and we are only at the beginning of her special brand of global domination.

Klum is a supermodel, businesswoman and host of the reality show Project Runway