'Dancing With the Stars' Host Tyra Banks Defends Decision to Join Series Amid Backlash for Tom Bergeron Firing

Dancing With The Stars host Tyra Banks clarified the timeline for joining the show, addressing speculation that she was hired to replace Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Banks said ABC hired her before the recent protests against racial inequality and pointed to her resume as evidence that she was hired due to her experience. Bergeron himself previously told fans Banks was not hired to diversify DWTS.

"I'll be one hundred percent transparent. The decision to bring me on the show was before any of the unrest," the former America's Got Talent host told TV Guide during a discussion with reporters Thursday. "The announcement came after that. ABC was not reacting to [Black Lives Matter protests]. I knew exactly what people would think, but that's not what it was." Banks further explained that she has overcome negative perceptions throughout her long career as a supermodel and television personality.

"I've created TV shows, I've hosted Emmy-winning shows. I'm capable. I've always loved having the wind in my face. It doesn't bother me," Banks said. "My job is to endear America to this show they know and love. I'm going to bring excitement and oomph. I'm confident we're going to show people a good time." Banks has two Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show for The Tyra Banks Show and was a judge and executive producer on America's Next Top Model. She also hosted America's Got Talent in 2017 and 2018.

Ever since ABC announced Bergeron was leaving DWTS, there was a backlash from longtime fans who see him as an irreplaceable part of the show. Bergeron hosted every season of the series since it began, until now. One fan wrote on his Instagram page in July that they believed ABC only replaced him with Banks because they wanted to support Black Lives Matter. "Hadn't planned to say any more about my departure yet, but, as a supporter of the @Blklivesmatter movement, I can assure you that wasn't the reason," Bergeron responded, notes Gold Derby.

Elsewhere in her discussion with reporters, Banks confirmed there would be no studio audience, and everyone will adhere to strict coronavirus guidelines while on set. She confirmed Len Goodman is still in England and will likely have to judge remotely due to travel restrictions. She also plans to "spice it up" without totally changing the DWTS format fans know and love. Banks' first episode as host airs on Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET.