Tyra was born in Los Angeles on December 4th, 1973, into a loving and supportive family. Despite the divorce of her parents when she was only 6 years old, and the torments of her older brother Devin, Tyra's youth was happy and trouble-free.


Though it might be hard to believe, Tyra was tall, skinny and awkward as an adolescent. She was constantly teased by her brother and her classmates, and often ran home crying to her mother for comfort. But late into her high school years everything changed. Tyra filled out her skinny frame, began to work out and finally decided to become a model. She pursued that goal with the determination that now marks all of her activities.

After being turned down by four modeling agencies because they didn't think she was photogenic, Tyra finally signed with Elite Model Management at age 17. She had her foot in the door and she was ready to push right on through. Instead of beginning her freshman year at Loyola Marymount College, Tyra moved to Paris for a year and modeled for many of the big names in fashion, including Ralph Lauren and Chanel. She then moved back to the States and continued modeling, rocketing her way up through the ranks.

tyra banks in sports illustrated

Once Tyra hit the modeling scene, it was clear that she was born to be there. Some of her most notable modeling contracts started with Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated -- in 1996 she was the first black woman to be feature on an SI swimsuit issue cover.

Tyra has strutted her stuff on runways in London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, and the United States, for all the big names from Anna Sui and Dolce & Gabbana to Richard Tyler. Tyra is also credited with numerous magazine and print modeling appearances for her work for Cover Girl, Swatch and Nike, just to name a few.

Tyra was meant to grace the covers of magazines and grace them she has; Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Essence, ELLEgirl and ELLE are among those that have hosted her image.

Despite her obvious success as a runway and magazine model, Tyra walked the walk for the last time at a 2005 Victoria's Secret runway show, putting her modeling career behind her. In February of 2006, Tyra celebrated her 10th anniversary of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue by recreating her debut shot on the beach in the Bahamas.

tyra banks and america's next top model

Modeling just wasn't enough for Tyra and soon after her picture-perfect career began she tackled television. This affair began with a recurring role on Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where she played Jackie Ames, Will's ex-girlfriend. In this early years, Tyra was one of Barker's Beauties on The Price is Right, and she also appeared on Felicity and on an episode of MADtv.

Since then Tyra has turned her television love affair into a full-fledged relationship. In 2000 she became the producer, hostess and head judge of America's Next Top Model, a reality show that brings together bright young modeling talent from across the nation to compete for a Cover Girl contract and cash prize. The show has spawned spin-offs around the globe, including Australia's Next Top Model and Canada's Next Top Model.

Tyra also has her own talk show. In 2005, The Tyra Banks Show began and has had much success ever since. Tyra, following in Oprah's footsteps, has created a talk show that promotes the female body and mind no matter what the size, shape or color.

tyra banks in coyote ugly

Tyra's first substantial movie role came in John Singleton's Higher Learning. She played Omar Epps' track-running girlfriend and, although it was a small role, critics were impressed by the intensity she brought to the screen.

Tyra was definitely not just another supermodel playing at being an actress -- her performance was the real thing. She even did some distance-running training, in order to deliver a more believable performance. When the film came out, more offers began to roll in.

Tyra went on to a small part in Love Stinks. Then, in 2000, she landed a supporting role in the popular independent film Love & Basketball, and a starring role in the made-for-TV Disney movie Life-Size (in which she played a doll brought to life by a wish).

A prominent part in Coyote Ugly (2000) brought Tyra back into the movie limelight.

tyra banks on people's most beatiful

Tyra made People Magazine's "100 Most Beautiful" list not once, but twice, and even wrote a revealing book about her life, Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out. She also had a few high-profile relationships, first with John Singleton and then with pop singer Seal. Tyra is rumored to have gone out with Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and... Mark Messier? Strangely enough, yes.

In interviews, Tyra often says that she has a preference for normal guys, albeit tall ones -- she measures 5'11". Tyra has also expressed her desire to find Mr. Right, get married and have kids one day.

tyra and her weight

Unlike most other models, Tyra claims that doesn't watch what she eats; she has gone on record stating that she eats barbecued ribs, fried chicken wings, ice cream, and even fast-food.

So how does Tyra stay in shape? She plays lots of sports, particularly basketball and tennis, and makes sure she always has fun while exercising.



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