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.
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.
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
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
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-empowermentinspiring
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.
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
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
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)
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
- "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.
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