When I was given the chance to ask Tyra any question in the world that I wanted to about the launch of her new smizing app ("Smize Yourself!"), I couldn't help but think of Oprah. The talk show. The brand. The one-word association of powerful, polarizing, and yes, fierce businesswomen who keep extending, extending the brand. I wondered: How does she compare herself to the gold standard for being a one-woman empire?
"Oh the Oprah empire is something that many people have tried to imitate or duplicate, but there will never be another Oprah," she schooled me over Skype this week. "I've gotten a lot of comparisons or questions about Oprah in the last, maybe, 5 years of my career. I think a lot of it had to do with me doing a talk show, but she is the queen. She will always be the queen."
Understood. But in the same way that when you say "Oprah" everyone knows exactly what that means, she does foresee a similar future for the brand of "Tyra."
"What I love about Oprah is that her brand is very crisp and very clear," she says. "Other brands that I love that are very crisp and clear are Martha Stewart, Richard Branson, Disney. I look to those brands as how to to expand our company and mean something and for the audience to understand that we mean something that is separate from who I am as a human being."
Smizing, which is of course, "smiling with your eyes" came from just being sick of having to say "smile with your eyes" over and over again, but now she hears people doing it even in lieu of "cheese" for pictures. And yes, she does recommend it if you're going to do the sexting thing -- smizexting? Lastly, for men, she says an additional smizing move is to look off camera. For some reason it gives the smize that extra punch.
"I think what 'America's Next Top Model' showed is that it is a true skill," she says of the smize coinage (I've never written the word smize so many times, you guys). "So what happened with me is that on Instragram and on Twitter, I have millions of people who are constantly sending pictures going, 'Tyra, am I smizing? Am I doing it right?'"
Overall, though, my favorite thing Tyra told me (I mean, besides her calling me crazy at the end, in a loving, affectionate way -- I think?) was when she talked about how in the future she hopes consumers may not even realize that she was a human being -- at all.
"I do know that years and years from now, I'm talking about decades and decades, possibly even half a century from now, I want a little girl to be experiencing something of the Tyra Banks company and for her to have no idea to know that I was a human being," she says. "I want her grandmother to know that it was a human being, but I want [people to know] the legacy of what we stand for, which is redefining beauty, expanding the definition of beauty."
If she wants other people to one day not know she was human, does she ever see herself as a brand -- and not even human?
"By no means -- no," she smized. "Come on. That's crazy."
The app, which was released today in the Apple store, is $1.99 and uses facial morphing technology to help point, pose and push pictures to a new level of smizing. I kid you not. This is the future, people. We are living in the future.
Enjoy the video below, and see if you aren't totally put in a trance by the smize.
I was. I mean, hello. Read this damn piece. It's written by a woman smize-notized.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.