Tyra Banks

Born: California, U.S., 1973

Tyra Banks was born in 1973 in California and is an American model and is one of the most successful models of all time, she has become a globally recognised household name.
Tyra describes an awkward childhood of growing too fast and gaining the nickname ‘Giraffe’ but by the age of 17 Tyra was showing her true model promise and after initial rejections down to her ethnicity Tyra was eventually signed to Elite Model Management. The same year Tyra appeared in her first magazine shoot for Seventeen magazine.

Elite sent Tyra to Paris for high-fashion catwalk modelling and from them Tyra rose quickly to being one of the most successful models of her time and possibly of all time. In 1991 Tyra managed to book 25 catwalk shows in one season.

Around the mid-1990s Tyra began to gain weight which was highly controversial in a culture of waif like models. Tyra refused to bend her body to fit in with the current high fashion trend and instead returned to work in the USA and started booking swimwear and lingerie campaigns. She said: “I made my living being 20 or 30 pounds heavier that the average model, and that’s where I got famous. Victoria’s secret said I sold more bras and panties than anybody else and I was traipsing down that runway with 30 pounds more booty than the other girls.”

As well as defying pressure from the fashion industry to loose weight Tyra also tirelessly worked to bring equality within the industry to models of different ethnicities. In 1996 Tyra became the first black woman to appear on the cover of both GQ and Sports Illustrates swimsuit edition, the nest year she was also the first black woman to appear on the cover of a Victoria’s Secret Catalogue.

In 2012 Tyra signed to IMG models and became a contributor to the Vogue Italia website, a move into writing which continued with the release of her novel ‘Modelland’ in 2011. Tyras debut novel made it into the New York Times bestseller List and two more in the series are expected to be published.

Like all good models Tyra has appeared in several music videos including Michael Jacksons ‘Black or White’, Tina Turner’s ‘Love Thing’ and George Michaels ‘Too Funky’ alongside supermodel Linda Evangelista.

Alongside her modelling career Tyra has also done some work as an actor. She debuted with a  recurring role on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ in 1993 and then in 2000 Tyra appeared in hit films, ‘Love & Basketball’, ‘Coyote Ugly’ and ‘Life Size’. Recently she has also appeared in TV drama, ‘Gossip Girl’.

Tyra is a true entrepreneur and as well as modelling, acting and writing she has also done some work in the music industry. She recorded her first single in 2004 and also released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant. She also released the song ‘Be a star’ which featured on the soundtrack to Disney film ‘Life-Size’. More recently Tyra has begun work in the reality and she has created, produced and hosted the hit show ‘Americas Next Top Model’.

Tyra has dated director John Singleton, basketball player Chris Webber and investment banker John Utendahl, she remains single.

In 2009, Banks unveiled another groundbreaking endeavour with the launch of “The Tyra Banks Show,” a daytime talk show that tackled important social issues and celebrated individuality. Her charismatic hosting style and candid discussions resonated with viewers, further establishing her as a media powerhouse and role model for self-acceptance.

Throughout her career, Banks continued to redefine beauty standards. In 2012, she launched “Modelland,” a fantasy-themed attraction that celebrated diversity, inclusivity, and self-expression. This immersive experience allowed visitors to step into the world of modelling and embrace their unique beauty, further solidifying Banks’ commitment to empowering others.

As an entrepreneur, Banks expanded her empire with the launch of Tyra Beauty in 2014. This cosmetics line aimed to redefine beauty norms by encouraging self-confidence and embracing individuality. Through her business ventures, Banks continued to promote self-acceptance and inspire people to celebrate their unique qualities.

In 2017, she made a comeback to television as the host of “America’s Got Talent,” where her vibrant personality and expertise added a fresh dynamic to the popular talent show. Additionally, Banks served as an executive producer for the reality competition series “Dancing with the Stars.” Throughout this period, she also expanded her entrepreneurial endeavours by launching ModelLand, an immersive attraction in Santa Monica that invites visitors to experience the world of modelling through interactive exhibits and entertainment

Tyra Banks Biography

Avatar photo

Written by Roanna Price

Roanna Price, fascinated by the escapism, imagination and conversation that can be conjured in the glossy page of fashion writing. Journalism graduate in Liverpool Roanna is responsible for our Top Model Biographies section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *