Tyra Lynne Banks was born December 4, 1973 in Inglewood, California. She is the daughter of Carolyn, a fashion manager and NASA photographer, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant. Banks has one brother, Devin Banks.
Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. Banks was accepted in to the University of Southern California and UCLA but declined to attend. Banks set off to pursue her career in modeling.
Banks modeling career began before she graduated high school. She started the business in the 11th grade. Banks soon went to Paris, France to do some runway modeling. Within Banks’ first week in Paris, designers were interested by her presence on the runway. Banks was booked for an unprecedented twenty-five shows – a record in the business for a new model.
Banks’ modeling career was extremely successful. She has done print and/or runway work for fashion and advertising giants, such as Anna Sui, Coors Light, CoverGirl, Badgley Mischka, Bill Blass, Cynthia Rowley, Chanel, Christian Dior, Victoria’s Secret, and Yves Saint Laurent
Banks has appeared on the covers of high-fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. Being an African American lead to many modeling firsts for Banks. She was the first African American woman on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In 1997, Banks received the VH1 award for Supermodel of the Year. She also became the first-ever African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog in 1997.
Banks retired from modeling in May 2005. She left modeling to focus on her television career. She walked the runway for the last time at the 2005 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Banks had a minor television career during her time as a model. She had small roles on several shows. After her retirement from modeling, Banks began her own production company Bankable Productions, which produced The Tyra Banks Show, America’s Next Top Model, and the 2008 movie The Clique.
In 2008, Banks won the Daytime Emmy Award for her work and production on The Tyra Banks Show.
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