A modeling career, four kids, a new, younger boyfriend (art dealer Vito Schnabel). Yes, you could say Heidi Klum has a lot going on. On Tuesday, the German supermodel starts her second season as co-judge of America’s Got Talent, along with Howie Mandel, Mel B and Howard Stern. We spoke to Klum about season nine of the hit series, which premieres at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Do you ever think about when you were starting out and going to cattle calls when these people audition for you?
Yes. I sit there and I try to be always open-minded and give everyone a fair chance, you know. People don’t always do that in the business. When I started and I would go to casting, I have memories of where people sometimes go through your picture book that you’ve been working on for a whole year and people just rush through it and sometimes they don’t even look up at you to see you and they hand the book back to you and go, “OK, next.” So I always try to remember to give everyone a fair shot.
Were you blown away by any one particular individual?
We had one boy — I think he was 9 — who was a professional with a Rubik’s cube. You can’t dream of that. Like he did it with his hands in 20 seconds and then [host Nick Cannon] kind of messed up the cube again. Then the boy took his shoes off and did it 20 seconds with his toes.
What kind of acts are your favorites? Least favorites?
What I don’t love is when people just want to come and they don’t really have an act, but they just want to be on TV. Like we had this one girl for example — beautiful and really fit — she wanted to show us how you pose to do a selfie. That didn’t take me long to hit my buzzer. That’s not a talent, that’s not a million dollar act. There’s people that are really serious that have been training for years — especially the contortionists or dance groups or singers — then there comes a grown-up girl and she’s serious about teaching us how to do a selfie? I’m like, really?
How do you handle being away from your family for so long?
When we start the live shows, it’s easier for me because I’m moving my entire family to New York instead of me flying back and forth [to L.A.] every week. I just set up our base there so it works out perfectly, in terms of my kids going to school. And they love being there. We go see all the Broadway shows. We take the double-decker bus. We’re kind of like tourists.
Is it hard to reject the younger performers?
It’s horrible to break these kids’ hearts. I try to be really gentle and tell them that they should continue. Just because it didn’t work out on America’s Got Talent doesn’t mean that they’re not talented. I don’t want to put my kids through something like that, but I guess these parents do. They have to deal with their kids being crushed when they leave us.
Would you want your kids going into showbiz?
I don’t know if I want to put my kids through that. The good thing is that they don’t have the ambition to do that right now. My kids want to be kids. They go to school and they have their hobbies. I’m happy about that. They have their playdates and they have their soccer and gymnastics classes and things they love and are passionate about. It’s a different kind of breed of kids, I think, that are just made for the stage. You have to start this kind of stuff early and really want it. These kids we see on stage, they have that passion from an early age.