Tyra Banks ‘Knew What She Was Getting Into’ Taking Over as ‘DWTS’ Host

Tyra Banks DWTS Disney Night
ABC/Eric McCandless

Imitation truly is the highest form of flattery.

Maya Rudolph is coming back to Saturday Night Live this fall to impersonate Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, but Tyra Banks, who has been spoofed by Rudolph before on the late-night variety show, is hoping that the Emmy-winning actress will don some sequins and spoof her latest gig — host of Dancing With the Stars.

Banks spoke with TV Insider and a small group of reporters after DWTS‘ Disney Night episode on September 28, which saw the judges save actress Anne Heche and pro partner Keo Motsepe, sending Carole Baskin (Tiger King) and partner Pasha Pashkov packing.

Below, Banks weighs in on how her hosting gig is going, what it’ll feel like to crown a Mirror Ball champion, future SNL spoofs, and more.

On why there was an elimination on Disney Night, which is unusual for the show

“I didn’t have anything to do with that decision. The producing team informed me of that. I thought, ‘Wow, people [might be assuming] that no one would go home this week,’ but they decided that someone would.”

On getting into a groove as the show’s host

“The first week, there’s a lot of choreography that [had] to go on. There’s a lot of what we call ‘cueing yourself,’ meaning that the director doesn’t tell me to go or to speak. So, I walk out on stage and just feel a lot of things naturally. People don’t see that the director and different producers…are in my ears, telling me, ‘Cut them off! Judges are talking too long! We’ve got to get to a commercial! We’ve got to go…!’

“There’s so much happening. And there’s a teleprompter and a cue card. It’s a lot so that first week, I was very nervous. And I don’t normally get nervous [but] it’s a new job … The second week, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt good. I was chilling. And then, third week I’m nervous again because it’s Disney [week] and I grew up with Disney — the Main Street Electrical Parade. I was nervous again. So, I walked out there and said, ‘Welcome to Disney Week,’ and my heart was [beating fast]…”

On who her mom is rooting for

“My momma loves Justina Machado (One Day at a Time). She loves some curves and, whoa! She can move! My mom is rooting for [her].”

Justina Machado Disney Night DWTS

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber on DWTS Disney Night (ABC/Eric McCandless)

On where she’d like the show to be in three weeks

“I’ll be honest with you — it’s going to sound weird — I kind of forget that we send people home each week. Of course, Dancing With the Stars does that! Of course! But I just get so caught up with the pro dancers and the stars and that we are all so close [even with] social-distancing. I’m like damn! [Each elimination] is a reminder that someone’s going to be going home. You know what’s going to be tripping me in about three weeks? It’s that three [couples] that I think are amazing and are really good dancers are going to go home! I’m either going to be going to bed pissed that night or I’ll feel that it was their time, but I’ll still feel sad.”

On being an emotional buffer between the competitors and the judges

“Yeah, I think it is important for me to be that. It’s important for the judges to be as honest as possible because their honesty also helps the stars get better the next week. But that’s not my job. My job is to comfort them and to remind them that they’ve come a long way. I’ve been on both sides of it. I was a model and was judged constantly, I was told I wasn’t good enough. Then, I was a judge for many years on my show America’s Next Top Model and I had to tell these models how to get better each week.

I think it’s important for my role here on Dancing With the Stars to be the cheerleader, to be that sister, the god-mom [and] say you did your thing. It’s going to be OK. Now, go and relax and we’ll figure this out.”

On being spoofed on Saturday Night Live

“When I was spoofed on Saturday Night Live [in 2005], we damn near had a party for America’s Next Top Model. We had arrived because we had been on SNL! I am hoping and praying I get spoofed on Saturday Night Live as the host of Dancing With the Stars. Maya [Rudolph], please, honey…please. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but you need to do me. Just exaggerate me and make me want to hide because I’ll be embarrassed but I’ll be flattered at the same time. That’s what it feels like — you’re embarrassed but flattered…”

On the challenges of taking over for host Tom Bergeron

“It’s always challenging when you step into something. At the same time, I knew what I was getting into. The network asked me to do this. I said yes. You do know when you’re stepping into something new, people are like, ‘I want what I’m used to,’ but at the same time, our ratings are up 38 percent, which are unprecedented crazy numbers! That’s the validation [that] we’re doing something right. It’s not just me — it’s the cast, it’s the judges, it’s this next-level producing that’s created this beautiful thing that more people than ever are watching. So, I’m happy to be there.”

Tom Bergeron on DWTS (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

On what it will be like announcing the Mirror Ball champion

“Announcing this winner is going to mean a lot. I don’t know if I’ll cry. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeves. What will be one of the hardest things is not being able to hug them and to have to do that from a distance for the utmost safety. That’s going to be hard. Some of my tears will be for that reason.”

Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC