American model, media personality, actress, occasional singer, author and businesswoman. She first became famous as a model, appearing twice on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and working for Victoria's Secret as one of their original Angels. Banks is the creator and host of the UPN/The CW reality television show America's Next Top Model, co-creator of True Beauty, and host of her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show.
Early lifeTyra Banks was born in [Inglewood], California. She is the daughter of Carolyn (née London; now London-Johnson), a medical photographer, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant. She has a brother, Devin, who is five years older. In 1980, when Banks was 6 years old, her parents divorced. Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. Tyra Banks is one of four African Americans and seven women to have repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by Time magazine.
ModelingWhen Banks was 12 years old, she started modeling besides school in Los Angeles. Later, when she was in search of a model agency, she was rejected by four modeling agencies before she got signed by Elite Model Management at age 16. When she got the opportunity to model in Europe, she decided to put college on hold to move to Milan. In her first runway season, she was booked a record of 25 shows at Paris fashion week. She would later grace the covers of ELLE and Vogue Spain. She walked the runways for Chanel, Isaac Mizrahi, Anna Sui and Fendi as well as appearing in ad campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren. In the mid-1990's, Banks returned to America to do more commercial modeling.
Banks was the first African American woman on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In 1997, she received the VH1 award for, "Supermodel of the Year." That same year, she became the first-ever African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria's Secret catalog.She is one of the original Victoria's Secret Angels.
In 2010, Banks re-signed with her former modeling agency IMG Models. Banks is now a contributor of Vogue Italia's website.
Move into television and filmThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which she played lead character Will Smith's old friend Jackie Ames. She made seven appearances in the series. Other TV credits include Felicity, All That, MADtv, Nick Cannon's Wild 'n Out (in which she was featured as a special guest host and team captain) and The Price Is Right (guest-starring as a "Barker's Beauty"). She also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode entitled "Chinatown."
Tyra Banks started her own production company, Bankable Productions (previously named, "Ty Ty Baby Productions"; she did not rename it till the second cycle of America's Next Top Model), which produced The Tyra Banks Show, America's Next Top Model and the 2008 movie The Clique.
Banks is the hostess, judge and executive producer of The CW Television Network show America's Next Top Model. In addition, she hosted The Tyra Banks Show, a daytime talk show aimed at younger women, which premiered on September 12, 2005, and ran until May 28, 2010.
In 2008, Banks won the Daytime Emmy Award for her work and production on The Tyra Banks Show., and won for the second time in a row for outstanding, informative talkshow. In 2010, Oprah Winfrey congratulated Tyra Banks for a good job done on her talk-show for inspiring and mentoring young women.
In late-January 2008, Banks got the go-ahead from The CW Television Network to start work on a new reality television series based on fashion magazines called Modelitha. The show premiered on October 22, 2008.
Banks's first big screen role came in 1994, when she co-starred in the drama Higher Learning. She then co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life and has to learn how to live in the real world. Other notable roles include Love Stinks (1999), Love & Basketball (2000), Coyote Ugly (2000) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). She and Miley Cyrus poke fun at the excesses of the Hollywood lifestyle with a battle over a pair of shoes in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009).
Banks appeared in the fourth episode of the third season of Gossip Girl playing Ursula Nyquist, a larger-than-life actress who works with Serena.
MusicBanks has appeared in several music videos, including Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Tina Turner's "Love Thing", Mobb Deep's "Trife Life", George Michael's "Too Funky" (with supermodels Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford ) and Lionel Richie's "Don't Wanna Lose You". In 2004, she recorded her first single, "Shake Ya Body," which had a music video featuring the final six contestants on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 2. The video was world-premiered on UPN, but the single turned out to be a failure.
Banks released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant, entitled "K.O.B.E.," which was performed on NBA TV. She also has a single on the soundtrack to Disney Channel's Original Movie Life-Size called "Be A Star."
BooksBanks announced in May 2010 that she would be writing a novel, titled Modelland, loosely based on her own modelling experience. Published September 2011, it is the first of a planned three-part series. On an interview with Good Morning America, Banks stated that Modelland is the story of four girls who are accepted into an "exclusive" modelling school in the world of Modelland. Her first novel, Modelland, hit the New York Times best seller list in October 2011.
In 1998, Banks authored a book entitled Tyra's Beauty, Inside and Out.
WebsiteTyra Banks launched in March 2011 her fashion and beauty website typeF.com, which she co-created with Demand Media. typeF.com features articles, images, product recommendations and videos featuring Tyra and fashion and beauty experts.
OtherIn 2011, Banks enrolled in the nine-week-long Owner/President Manager Program (OPM) at Harvard Business School's open-enrollment extension school. Banks passed the Executive Education Training Program in February 2012.
PhilanthropyIn 1999, Tyra Banks established the TZONE program, which aimed at leadership and life skills development. Banks 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. In 2005, TZONE transformed from a camp into a public charity, the Tyra Banks TZONE Foundation.
Year Film Role Notes
1995 Higher Learning Deja
1999 Love Stinks Holly Garnett
2000 Love & Basketball Kyra Kessler
Life-Size Eve Doll TV movie
Coyote Ugly Zoë
2002 Halloween: Resurrection Nora Winston
Eight Crazy Nights Victoria's Secret Gown Voice
2007 Mr. Woodcock Herself Cameo
2008 Tropic Thunder Herself Cameo
2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie Herself Cameo
Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Jackie Ames TV series (credited as "Tyra")
Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Part 1
Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Part 2
All Guts, No Glory
Father of the Year
Blood Is Thicker Than Mud
Fresh Prince After Dark
Take My Cousin... Please
You've Got to Be a Football Hero
1999 Felicity Jane Scott TV series
A Good Egg
Kissing Mr. Covington
One Ball, Two Strikes
Just Shoot Me! Herself TV series
Nina Sees Red: Part 1
Nina Sees Red: Part 2
2000 MADtv Katisha Latisha Parisha Farisha Johnson TV series
2003–present America's Next Top Model Host Reality TV series created, judged and hosted by Banks
2004 American Dreams Carolyn Gill TV series
Chasing the Past
All of Us Roni TV series
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2005–2010 The Tyra Banks Show Host Talk show
2009 Gossip Girl Ursula Nyquist TV series,season 3
Dan de Fleurette
2011 Mexico's Next Top Model Guest judge Reality TV Series
Episode Finale in Mexico's Next Top Model, Cycle 2
2012 Vietnam's Next Top Model Guest judge Reality TV Series
Episode Finale in Vietnam's Next Top Model, Cycle 2
Shake It Up Miss Burke Disney Channel Original Series
Episode: "Parent Trap It Up"