Tyra Banks says she was “shocked” when asked to host “Dancing With the Stars,” back Monday for its 29th season on ABC.
“I never thought I would get that inquiry,” Banks, 46, tells The Post. “I was probably just as shocked as you were. It took me a while to wrap my head around it. After about a month I consulted with my mom and said, ‘What do you think?’ She thought I was ridiculous. She was like, ‘Why are you taking so long to get back to them? Of course you should do it. It’s one of the biggest shows on TV. It’s part of Americana.’ ”
Banks replaces Tom Bergeron, the show’s original host, who was dismissed in July after 15 years on the “DWTS” ballroom floor. ABC said it wanted to “embark on a new direction”; Bergeron’s co-host, Erin Andrews, was also let go.
“I’m 46, and all the research on me is that my main audience is 10 to 20 years younger than me, and that 25-35 demographic is very important to the show,” says Banks, who’s also an executive producer. “I’m connected to TikTok with my motivation initiative and I’m learning about what resonates with the younger generation … and how we can bring that generation to watching ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — how to get them to watch with their moms, aunties and grandparents.”
Banks says she’s not daunted by replacing Bergeron on the still-solid ABC warhorse — particularly with her on-camera experience creating and hosting “America’s Next Top Model,” her daytime talk show “Tyra” (2005-2010) and on “America’s Got Talent” (she replaced Nick Cannon for two seasons.)
“I tend not to get nervous about hosting,” she says. “To be honest, I’m nervous when I have to act and remember lines. I want to make sure I can bring something different and special and unique [to ‘DWTS’] … something that can add some pixie dust and come at it from a different point of view — and that’s what my initial hesitation was about.
“I never want to be a ‘host-for-hire,’ ” she says. “Tom Bergeron was like an empire with his brand and his comedic timing. What can I do to add to something that was so genius? My mom and me are sitting down and talking about all the different elements I can bring to the show. I’ll be fine; that doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes or read the Teleprompter backwards, but live TV is about mess-ups and mistakes and calling them out when they happen.
“I think that’s important.”
This season’s celebrity hoofers include Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” renown, rapper Nelly, “One Day at a Time” star Justina Machado and actress Anne Heche.
The show will look a bit different due to the COVID protocols. Banks and the dancing partners will be on the show’s ballroom set but will be socially distanced; married dancer couples will live separately during the season to limit contact with other cast members. Meanwhile, “DTWS” vet Derek Hough joins Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli at the judge’s table with Len Goodman, who’s in London and unable to travel to the US, contributing remotely.
“The coordination can be a little challenging, even if some of the COVID protcols are intense,” Banks says. “But it’s a good kind of positive challenge.”