Tyra Banks was born in Los Angeles, California to Don Banks
and Carolyn London. Tyra Banks was raised in Inglewood,
California with her brother Devin, and 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." Tyra 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, Tyra was about to begin her freshman year at Claremont McKenna College when Elite Model Management gave the 17-year-old her first modeling job. Prior to this entry into the fashion world, Tyra 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.
Tyra Banks' career took off when she made the move from high-fashion to a commercial market. Tyra Banks 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, and the U.S. She has been featured in a variety of magazines, commercials, and billboards. Tyra Banks's modeling credits include runway and/or print work for CoverGirl, Swatch, Pepsi, Nike, XOXO, LensCrafters, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren, 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, Tyra stood out with a more voluptuous physique at 5ft 11in tall and reported measurements of 34˝-23˝-35˝. 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."
Tyra 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, and they cannot lie."
Despite Tyra Banks's phenomenal success as a supermodel, Banks began venturing from modeling to becoming a media personality after 2000. Tyra Banks is the host, head judge, and an executive producer of the 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. Tyra 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." Tyra Banks 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. Currently ranked #4 out of 25 as the S--iest Supermodels in the world, by models.com.
Tyra retired from modeling in 2005. She made her final walk down the runway at the 2005 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Super model, Donfaye was Banks's friend. Tyra Banks' television career began on the fourth season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which she played Jackie, Will's ex-girlfriend. Tyra Banks 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 green light 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. Under the slogan "Every woman has a story," Banks promoted her show using emotional flashbacks to her own childhood and adolescence. Many of the episodes deal with issues facing women today and how she loves using the term "dookie" to describe feces. Tyra Banks has also starred in an old episode of MADtv. Tyra's has also starred as the fictitious brought to life doll 'Eve' in the Disney film Life-Size, along side Lindsay Lohan.
Tyra 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 and, only single, Shake Ya Body (Music Video). Tyra Banks had a failed pop career, which she commented about in ANTM, "I don't know what I was thinking! ...models don't sing!" 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 recorded three songs.
Tyra 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. Tyra Banks also co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life. She co-starred in 1999's Love Stinks, 2000's Coyote Ugly and 2002's Halloween: Resurrection – the eighth film in the Halloween franchise.
Tyra has had a number of high-profile relationships with men, including director John Singleton, investment banker Craig Davis, basketballer Chris Webber, and Seal.
Tyra has expressed her preference for a relationship with a 'normal guy' in order to escape the pressures of being together with another well-known celebrity and the media scrutiny that comes with it. Tyra Banks says she wants a man who "knows how to appreciate natural curves when he sees them."
On May 8, 2006, Banks was named as one of the world's 100 most influential people in TIME magazine.
TV Series/Movies List for Tyra Banks
Film List for Tyra Banks
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