The Tyson Beckford Interview
Laura Bury meets up with Tyson Beckford, long-time model, full-time charmer and brand spanking new panelist for this year’s Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model.
Perhaps it was because I didn’t really know who he was before researching him (I know, I’ve clearly been living under a rock), perhaps it’s because I had a camomile tea (ok, four) before I met him, but Tyson Beckford was no more intimidating in person than my mom – he was charming, at ease, ready for a laugh, and perhaps he’s just had a lot of practice over the last 20 years, but interviewing him was a pleasure. And not just because he’s hot. Really, really, really hot.
You’ve been in the modelling industry for almost two decades, how do you explain your longevity?
It’s all about how long you want to stay in it, how well you take care of yourself and how good your management team is – and it’s got to be good for you to stay in it that long. People want to deal with you because you are so personable and your team is the same way. Your team is a reflection of who you are, so if they can’t get along with your people it [your career] is probably not going to last long.
And of course you do need to be in good shape. It’s a woman’s industry and I’m just an accessory (Oh we doubt that very much Mr Beckford), so if someone like Elle [McPherson] gets on to you and she asks ‘hey you want come on my show’ [Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model], you say ‘yeah, totally’. So you want to be in good shape because television adds like 10 pounds, and if you’re out of shape then you’re going to look even more out of shape on TV. Being in shape was almost like a competition between myself and Julien [Macdonald]: ‘hey did you run today, yeah I ran today’.
I don’t think there is a difference… People are just different; they’re always going to look different. It just shows that it’s a world full of multi races and different ethnic backgrounds and it’s going to produce a different look every time. You can just as easily say ‘what’s the difference between models of the 80s and models of the present day?’ Humans evolve so it’s always going to change, it’s never going to be the same. I don’t care what people say, there are no two models that look alike. And if you’re working with different photographers and different lighting it’s always going to look different.
What would you say to Irish girls who want to get into modelling?
Go for it. There are no limits or boundaries and the worst they can say is ‘no’. It’s best to do it while you’re young; while you have the energy to run around, because if you wait too long you might miss that window and you’ll always hate that you didn’t chase you’re dreams. I think that as you get older you get settled – when you’re young you have so many dreams and you should really pursue all of them.
What do you prefer being a model or mentor?
I like both. It’s a learning experience every day with both, because no one can say they know it all – not even Einstein, not even Elle! You’re in a different scenario every time.
Do you feel modelling is a cut throat industry?
When I think cut throat I think of the music industry. Our industry’s not cut throat, it’s very competitive.
Every season is different, and every season you have to evolve, because what Marc Jacobs wants in the spring won’t be the same in the fall, each season is a different look. So you’re constantly doing something different.
Do you think there’ll be a competition for male models?
Well I’ll have nothing to do with that, because I like working with the women! I don’t want to work with a bunch of sweaty men, I don’t want to be adjusting some man’s shorts, I want to be asked to adjust her shorts.
No, Tyra, like Elle, know that I have that experience and have worked with so many of them [female models] for so many years. They don’t even tell me ‘do it this way’, ‘do it that way’. They like my insight into how to do it. I’m a man looking in, so I just give it from my point of view. I’ve spent so much time working with women, I’ve shot more with women than I have with men, so I do have a better understanding of the women’s side of the business.
Did you have a favourite on the show?
Yeah, you gotta have a favourite… It’s so good when you see them come in and they’re a raw canvas and then you see them when they leave you and you think ‘I’ve just helped somebody change their life’, because this is a life-changing opportunity. The prizes are amazing, and even if you don’t win it, the top five or six can go out into the world and go out and have a career.
Finally, would you do it again?
Oh yeah. If I got a chance to do it again I would, if not then at least I got to do it once. Besides, I couldn’t picture not working with this one again [points to Whitney Port, also in the room!], we had a lot of fun on and off the set. We’re besties.
The 8th series of Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model launches on Monday 9th July at 9pm on Sky Living HD and on the move with Sky Go. Joining series host and executive producer Elle Macpherson and the cool new judging panel Julien Macdonald, Whitney Port and Tyson Beckford, are international supermodels Andrej Pejic, Paul Sculfor, Erin O’Connor and Tali Lennox, all of whom will sit alongside the foursome at various stages throughout the twelve week series.
Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model is on Mondays at 9pm on Sky Living, from 9th July and on the move with Sky Go.
Laura Bury for stylesiren.ie