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Tyra Banks

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Tyra Banks
Banks at an interview at Harvard Business School, 2011
Born Tyra Lynne Banks
(1973-12-04) December 4, 1973 (age 42)
Inglewood, California, U.S.
Ethnicity African American
Alma mater Immaculate Heart High School
Loyola Marymount University
  • Television personality
  • producer
  • businesswoman
  • model
  • actress
  • singer
  • author
Years active
  • Model:
  • Television personality/producer:
  • Actress:
Net worth $90 million (2011)[1]
Television America's Next Top Model
The Tyra Banks Show
Partner(s) Erik Asla (2013–present)
Children 1

Tyra Lynne Banks[2] (born December 4, 1973)[3] is an American television personality, producer, businesswoman, actress, author, former model and occasional singer. Born in Inglewood, California, she began her career as a model at age 15, and was the first African American woman to be featured on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, on which she appeared twice. She was a Victoria's Secret Angel from 1997 to 2005. By the early 2000s, Banks was one of the top-earning models in the world.

Banks began acting on television in 1993 on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and made her film debut in Higher Learning in 1995. She went on to have major roles such as Eve in Disney Channel's Life-Size and Zoe in the box office hit Coyote Ugly. She had small roles in romantic film Love & Basketball and horror film Halloween: Resurrection, and also appeared in television series Gossip Girl[4] and Glee.[citation needed]

In 2003, Banks created and began presenting the long-running UPN/The CW reality television series America's Next Top Model, which she executive produced and presented for the first twenty-two seasons until the series' cancellation in October 2015. Following the revival of the series, Banks remained as America's Next Top Model's executive producer, but no longer hosts the series. Banks was also the co-creator of True Beauty, and had her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, which aired on The CW for five seasons and won two Daytime Emmy awards for Outstanding Talk Show Informative. She also co-hosted the talk show FABLife for two months.

In 2010, she published a young adult novel titled Modelland, based on her life as a model which topped The New York Times Best Seller list in 2011.[5] Banks is one of four African Americans and seven women to have repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by TIME magazine.[6][7]

Early life

Tyra Lynne Banks was born in Inglewood, California. She is the daughter of Carolyn London (now London-Johnson), a medical photographer,[3] and Donald Banks, a computer consultant.[8][9] She has a brother, Devin, who is five years older.[10] In 1979, when Banks was six years old, her parents divorced. Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. While growing up, Banks states she was teased for her appearance and considered an "ugly duckling";[11][12] when Banks was 11 years old she grew three inches and lost 30 pounds in three months.[13] A genealogical DNA test on America's Next Top Model revealed Banks is of African, British and Native American ancestry.[14]



External images
Banks's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from January 26, 1996
Banks's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from February 21, 1997

When Banks was 15 years old, she started modeling while attending school in Los Angeles. She was rejected by four modeling agencies before she was signed by L.A. Models and then switched to Elite Model Management at age 16. When she got the opportunity to model in Europe, she moved to Milan. In her first runway season, she was booked in 25 shows at the 1991 Paris Fashion Week. Banks has appeared in editorials for American, Italian, French, and Spanish Vogue, French, German, Spanish, and American Elle, American, German, and Malaysian Harper's Bazaar, V, W, and Vanity Fair. She would later appear on the covers of magazines such as Elle, Harper's Bazaar, French and Spanish Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue. She walked the runways for Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Herve Leger, Valentino, Fendi, Isaac Mizrahi, Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Michael Kors and others. She has featured in advertising campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Tommy Hilfiger, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Halston, H&M, XOXO, Swatch, Victoria's Secret, Got Milk?, Pepsi and Nike.[15] In 1993, Banks signed a contract with CoverGirl cosmetics, launching advertising campaigns for the cosmetics company. In the mid-1990s, 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.[16] In 1997, she received the VH1 award for "Supermodel of the Year".[7] That same year, she became the first-ever African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria's Secret catalog.[17] She was a Victoria's Secret Angel from 1997 to 2005.[18] In 2010, Banks re-signed with her former modeling agency IMG Models.[19] Banks is now a contributor of the Vogue Italia website.[20] She has since started focusing on her film career and hosting her own TV show.

Film and television

Banks at Cannes Film Festival in 2000

Banks's television career began on the fourth season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which she played lead character Will Smith's old friend Jackie Ames.[21] She made seven appearances in the series.[7][22] Other TV credits include Felicity,[23] All That, MADtv, Nick Cannon's Wild 'n Out (in which she was featured as a special guest host and team captain)[24] and The Price Is Right (guest-starring as a "Barker's Beauty").[25][26] She also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode entitled "Chinatown".[27]

Banks started her production company, "Ty Ty Baby Productions" — soon afterward changed to Bankable Productions — which produced The Tyra Banks Show, America's Next Top Model and the 2008 movie The Clique.[28] Banks is the executive producer and former presenter and judge of 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.[29] In 2008, Banks won the Daytime Emmy Award for her work and production on The Tyra Banks Show,[30] and won for the second time in a row for outstanding, informative talkshow in 2009.[31] On May 30, 2014, Disney–ABC Domestic Television announced their plans to develop a lifestyle syndicated talk show, with Banks serving as executive producer and host, to debut sometime in 2015.[32][33]

Banks's first big screen role came in 1994, when she co-starred in the drama Higher Learning.[34] She then co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life. Other films she has starred in include Love Stinks (1999), Love & Basketball (2000), Coyote Ugly (2000), Halloween: Resurrection (2002)[7] and Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009).[35] Banks appeared in the fourth episode of the third season of Gossip Girl playing Ursula Nyquist, a larger-than-life actress.[36] She also appeared on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up as a school librarian.[37]

In 2012, reported that Banks would co-create and produce an ABC comedy series based on her teenage years titled Fivehead.[38]

Banks starred in the round table lineup talk show FABLife alongside model Chrissy Teigen, fashion stylist Joe Zee, interior designer Lauren Makk, and YouTube personality Leah Ashley.[39][40] Banks quit the series after less than three months to focus on her cosmetics company.[41]

Other projects


Banks in Santa Monica on September 14, 2011

Banks has appeared in several music videos, including Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Mobb Deep's "Trife Life", Tina Turner's "Love Thing", George Michael's "Too Funky" (with models Linda Evangelista, Estelle Lefébure, Emma Sjoberg and Nadja Auermann) 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 contestants from cycle 2 of America's Next Top Model. The video premiered on UPN.[42] Banks released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant, entitled "K.O.B.E.", which was performed on NBA TV.[7] She also had a single on the Life-Size soundtrack called "Be a Star".[7]


In 1998, Banks co-authored a book entitled Tyra's Beauty, Inside and Out.[43] She announced in May 2010 that she would be writing a novel, titled Modelland,[44] loosely based on her own modelling experience.[45] Published in September 2011, it is the first of a planned three-part series.[46] Modelland topped The New York Times Best Seller list in October 2011.


In 2014, Banks founded the cosmetics brand Tyra Beauty, which she completed a non-degree certificate program at Harvard Business School specifically for.[47] Tyra Beauty uses a multi-level marketing system to recruit sales distributors, who are called "beautytainers" by the company.[48] Banks held a casting call to find faces for her line, eventually selecting Melody Parra, Monique Hayward, Katy Harvey and Top Model Norge contestant Marita Gomsrud as the cosmetic line's original beauty models.


In March 2011, Banks launched her fashion and beauty website called "", which she co-created with Demand Media.[49]

In 2015, she launched "", an interactive cosmetic e-commerce site.[50]


In August 2016, Banks accepted a position as a personal branding guest lecturer at Stanford University.[51]

Personal life

Banks at the 2012 Time 100 gala

Banks has been outspoken on abusive relationships, having been a victim herself. In 2005, when asked about her relationship history, she stated, "I won't be using a lot of names on the show, but a specific relationship had not just cheating but emotional abuse. It was really bad, but that made me strong."[52] In 2009, she opened up about her past relationships when she made a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, hosting alongside Oprah Winfrey. The episode was dedicated to dating violence in response to the assault of Rihanna by Chris Brown.[53][54][55]

Banks began dating Norwegian photographer Erik Asla in 2013.[56] On January 27, 2016, a son, York Banks-Asla, was born via surrogacy.[57]


In 2011, Banks enrolled in the nine-week[58] Owner/President Management Program (OPM) at Harvard Business School. Banks completed the Executive Education Training Program in February 2012, earning a certificate.[59][60] She has come under criticism for implying she is a Harvard graduate.[61] Jenna Sauers, writing for Jezebel referred to her statements on Harvard as "disingenuous", and called upon her to "stop lying" about Harvard.[62][63]

As of 2012, Harvard professor Rohit Deshpande was preparing a case study on Banks' company, Bankable Productions, for use in future coursework in the OPM program.[64][65]


Banks established the TZONE program, which aimed at leadership and life skills development.[66][67] Banks acts as the patron for TZONE. 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.[68]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Higher Learning Deja
1999 Love Stinks Holly Garnett
1999 Apartment Complex, TheThe Apartment Complex Herself Television film
2000 Love & Basketball Kyra Kessler
2000 Life-Size Eve Television film
2000 Coyote Ugly Zoe
2002 Halloween: Resurrection Nora Winston
2002 Eight Crazy Nights Victoria's Secret gown Voice
2004 Larceny Herself
2007 Mr. Woodcock Herself Cameo appearance
2008 Tropic Thunder Herself Cameo appearance
2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie Herself Uncredited cameo appearance
2016 Life-Size 2 Eve[69]


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, TheThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Jackie Ames 7 episodes
1996 All That Customer Episode: "Tyra Banks/Blackstreet"
1997 New York Undercover Natasha Claybourne 3 episodes
1998 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Herself Episode: "Chinatown"
1999 Just Shoot Me! Herself 2 episodes
1999 Hughleys, TheThe Hughleys Nicole Episode: "Sap and the Star"
2000 MADtv Katisha Latisha Parisha Farisha Johnson 2 episodes
2000 Felicity Jane Scott 3 episodes
2001 Soul Food Nina Joseph Episode: "Ordinary Pain"
2003–2015 America's Next Top Model Herself Host, judge, and creator
2004 All of Us Roni Episode: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
2004 American Dreams Carolyn Gill Episode: "Chasing the Past"
2005–10 Tyra Banks Show, TheThe Tyra Banks Show Herself Host
2009 Gossip Girl Ursula Nyquist Episode: "Dan de Fleurette"
2011 Mexico's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge; cycle 2 finale
2012 Vietnam's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge; cycle 2 finale
2012–13 Shake It Up Mrs. Burke 2 episodes
2012 Top Model po-russki Herself Guest judge; cycle 3 finale
2013 Asia's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge; cycle 1 finale
2013 Glee Bichette Episode: "Movin' Out"
2014 Korea's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge; cycle 5 casting Episode
2015 Australia's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge; cycle 9 finale
2015 FABLife Herself Host
2015 Blackish Gigi Franklin Episode: "Plus Two Isn't a Thing"

Music videos

Year Music video Artist
1991 "Black or White" Michael Jackson
1991 "Love Thing" Tina Turner
1992 "Too Funky" George Michael
1995 "Trife Life" Mobb Deep
1996 "Don't Wanna Lose You" Lionel Richie
2004 "Shake Ya Body" Herself
2015 "BOOTYful" Herself
2016 "Child's Play" Drake


Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome Ref.
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Reality/Variety TV Star - Female America's Next Top Model Nominated [70]
2005 Choice TV Personality: Female Nominated [70]
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Host of a Talk or Service Show The Tyra Banks Show Nominated [70]
2007 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Personality America's Next Top Model/The Tyra Banks Show Won [70]
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Talk Show The Tyra Banks Show Nominated [70]
ASTRA Awards Favourite International Personality or Actor America's Next Top Model Nominated [70]
2008 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Personality Won [70]
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Talk Show/Informative The Tyra Banks Show Won [70]++
2009 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Talk Show/Informative The Tyra Banks Show Won [70]


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External links