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Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks Tyra Lynne Banks (born December 4, 1973) is an American supermodel, author, actress, and talk show host. Banks is widely-recognized as one of the most famous models in the world and she is part of a small group of supermodels of known African descent. Banks is currently ranked as the fourth highest earning supermodel.

Early life
Banks was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Inglewood, California. She attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls, independent Catholic private school in Los Angeles. Growing up, she was very thin and often teased; she was considered to be an "ugly duckling." Banks later said that this was a very difficult time for her and she developed a "very strong self-image problem." Banks has publicly stated that she has an extreme fear of dolphins.

Tyra Banks

In 1991, Banks was about to begin her freshman year at Loyola Marymount University when Elite gave the 17-year-old her first modeling job. Prior to this entry into the fashion world, Banks had been rejected several times for modeling assignments. In fact, she states that she did not deem her first job to be the start of a long career in fashion: "An agent saw pictures of me and said that I was the only girl she wanted to take back to Paris... I didn't leave thinking I was going to be some big fashion model. I just wanted to make money for college." Consequently, instead of heading to university, Banks went to Paris for fashion shows and other works produced by high-fashion designers such as Versace, Yves Saint-Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana. This is where her work became internationally renowned.


Banks' career took off when she made the move from high-fashion to a commercial market. She was the first African-American to be featured on the covers of GQ, Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, but is most famous for her work as a Victoria's Secret model. In 1997 she won the prestigious Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year. Banks has done runway shows in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, London and the U.S. She has been featured in a variety of magazines, commercials, and billboards. Her modeling credits include runway and/or print work for CoverGirl, Swatch, Pepsi, Nike, XOXO, LensCrafters, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren, McDonald's, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint-Laurent, Chanel, Escada, Anna Sui, Liz Claiborne and Richard Tyler. Banks has graced international fashion magazines, including the covers of Vogue, ELLE, Amica, ELLEgirl, L'Officiel, Harper's Bazaar, Photo, Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated.

In a time when waif fashion models were in prominence, Banks stood out with a more voluptuous physique at 5ft 9in tall and reported measurements of 34½-23½-35½. Banks had to work hard to persuade fashion designers that her physique was well-suited to the catwalk and ultimately walked for the best haute couture designers all over the world. Later on in her career, Banks decided that the world of high-fashion was no longer something she wished to pursue and so began seeking work in the commercial side of fashion. She says: "I was proactive [...] I told my agency to call Victoria's Secret, and I told them to call Sports Illustrated [...] I said my body is changing, and seamstresses are calling me grosso in Italian, and I know what the hell that means. And I'm not about to starve." Banks addressed her physique in an interview with The Sun, saying, "I am totally against plastic surgery. A lot of people think I have breast implants because I have the biggest boobs in the business. But I was a 34C when I was 17… They stay up when I wear a push-up bra. But if people could see me when I come home and take off my bra, how could they think these are fake?". She is known for being openly proud of her body, once commenting, "Some models are quite flat-chested so they can run around without bouncing. I can't […] Black women don't have the same body image problems as white women. They are proud of their bodies. Black men love big butts."

Despite her phenomenal success as a supermodel, Banks began venturing from modeling to becoming a media personality after 2000. She is the host, head judge, and an executive producer of the hit UPN television show America's Next Top Model. She also receives executive producer credits for all ANTM spinoffs. Banks also enjoyed a brief stint as a recording artist and during season two of America's Next Top Model the contestants danced in her first music video for the single Shake Ya Body ( Music Video) produced by experienced record producer Darkchild. Banks also acts as the patron for TZONE, a leadership program created by Banks for young girls that according to the organization, "reinforces core values of trust and support, challenges teen girls to resist negative social pressures, and enhances self-empowerment—inspiring girls to become confident leaders in their communities." She has also established the Tyra Banks Scholarship, a fund aimed at providing African-American girls the opportunity to attend her alma mater, Immaculate Heart High School.

Tyra Banks

Banks' television career began on the fourth season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which she played Jackie, Will's friend. She also appeared on Felicity. As well as her role as executive producer, host and head judge of the hit TV show America's Next Top Model, she currently hosts The Tyra Banks Show, a daytime talk show which premiered in the United States on September 12, 2005 and has just been given the greenlight for a second season. The show features stories about everyday people mixed in with celebrity interviews, much like the early format of The Oprah Winfrey Show, to which her show is already being compared. Under the slogan "Every woman has a story," Banks promoted her show using emotional flashbacks to her own childhood and adolescence. She has also starred in an old episode of MADtv.

Banks appeared in Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video in a scene in which Glen Chin morphs into her, and with fellow supermodel Linda Evangelista, in George Michael's "Too Funky" video. In 2004, she recorded her first single and only Shake Ya Body(Music Video) as it was poorly received. She has also had a single with NBA star Kobe Bryant, "K.O.B.E.," and has a single/soundtrack from the Disney movie Life-Size, called "Be A Star". In total, she has three singles and one upcoming album.

Banks has had minor roles in many films over the years. Her debut in film came in 1995 when she co-starred in the critically acclaimed drama Higher Learning. She also co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney movie Life-Size. She co-starred in 1999's Love Stinks, 2000's Coyote Ugly and 2002's Halloween: Resurrection – the eigth film in the Halloween franchise.

Supermodels in the Rainforest: Costa Rica (1995) as herself
Higher Learning (1995) as Deja
A Woman Like That (1997)
Love Stinks (1999) as Holly Garnett
Life-Size (2000) as Eve
Love & Basketball (2000) as Kyra Kessler
Coyote Ugly (2000) as Zoe
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) as Nora Winston
Eight Crazy Nights (2002) (voice) as Victoria's Secret Gown

TV Series/Movies
Inferno (1992)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1993) "You've Got to Be a Football Hero", "Take My Cousin... Please", "Fresh Prince After Dark", "Blood Is Thicker Than Mud", "Father of the Year", "All Guts, No Glory", "Where There's a Will, There's a Way" as Jackie Ames
New York Undercover (1997) "Descell", "Hubris", "Outrage" as Natasha Claybourne
The Hughleys (1999) "Sap and the Star" as Nicole
The Apartment Complex (1999)
Mad TV (2000) "Episode #5.25" as Katisha, "Episode #5.17"
Felicity (2000) "A Good Egg", "Kissing Mr. Covington", "One Ball, Two Strikes" as Jane Scott
Soul Food (2001) "Ordinary Pain" as Nina Joseph
America's Next Top Model (2003-present) as Executive Producer, Host
Marple: The Body in the Library (2004) as Executive Producer
American Dreams (2004)
Larceny (2004)
All of Us (2004) "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" as Roni
The Tyra Banks Show (2005-present) as Executive Producer, Host''
The Price Is Right (February 2006) as a guest Barker's Beauty

Tyra Banks


  • "Believe it or not, I just really know how to pose well. It took me five years to learn what my best angles are." – Banks on posing.
  • "I have an invested interest in all the girls. I take Adrianne's struggles to bed with me at night. Adrianne's problem was that she went to Europe to try to make it and nobody knew who she was there. So it was like starting over. But after a girl leaves the show it's really up to her to be aggressive and try to succeed." – Banks on America's Next Top Model Cycle 1 winner Adrianne Curry's post-show career.

Tyra Banks Picture Gallery

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