Tyson Beckford on ‘Supermodel’

Do you have what it takes to be a model citizen? How about something better—a supermodel citizen? Tonight Bravo debuts its new reality show, "Make Me a Supermodel," which follows in the mold of "Project Runway" with a pinch of "America's Next Top Model." The show throws 14 models, both men and women, into a house where they must live together and perform model stunts (like strutting around in swimsuits on a freezing cold New York morning) until America votes for its favorite. The show's host, Tyson Beckford, a former supermodel for Ralph Lauren, spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: So this show is going to be live like "American Idol"?
Tyson Beckford:
That's what they're telling me. I don't know who I am. As long as I'm not Paula or Simon. Well, I guess I'm the Simon. I'm the bad guy.

But you're not mean.
I take it seriously. I only asked for two things: good wardrobe and to keep the content of the show real.

Did you get a good wardrobe?
My wardrobe is better than theirs.

So you should wear your own stuff?
That's what I do. A lot of the time I'm casual, in jeans and T-shirts. I'm definitely going to be fashionable.

I have a very important question for you: could you make me into a supermodel?
I'm going to be getting that for the rest of my life. I know I'm going to be at a light somewhere: "Could you make my daughter into a supermodel?"

No, I'm serious.
Yeah, I could make you into one. You've got to cut your hair. I've got to get you into the gym.

What's wrong with my hair?
It's long.

But I just got it cut.
Short is good. We also got to teach you how to walk.

What's the secret?
Confidence. A lot of these guys are more like salesman; they're very timid.

How many hours do you work out?
I work out two hours or so a day.

How many crunches do you do?
I can go from anywhere from one to 1,000.

You do 100 at a time. The most I ever did in a row was, I think, 300. I have good, strong abs.

Are all the girl models hitting on you?
No. And I pray to God they don't. They're not supposed to.

Have you ever dated a model?
It's easier to date other models. We understand each other—I have to go to Paris at the drop of a phone. Models are cool, man. I dated one and I had a baby with one. My son is nine now. He's a great-looking kid.

Is he going to be a model too?
Nah, I don't think so. My kid is a football player.

Do you watch "Project Runway"?

I have an idea: I think the winner of your show should get to be a model on "Runway."
Even if they don't win, they should still go on there. That's our sister show.

Are all the models really going to go outside today in a bathing suit?
In fashion we shoot out of season. So they're going to shoot some summery stuff.

But it's freezing.
I remember when I worked for Polo, we shot on real glaciers in the snow and we got on a little next to nothing. The secret is you have to tell yourself mentally it's not cold.