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Tyra Lynne Banks (born December 4, 1973) is an American supermodel, television personality and talk show host 123 She first emerged to prominence on the catwalks of Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, and the U.S., but her work in the commercial world was her breakthrough. She is best known as hostess/judge of the reality television show America's Next Top Model, since its 2003 debut on UPN (later CW), and is currently hosting her own Daytime Emmy Award-nominated talk show, The Tyra Banks Show. Banks is one of only four African Americans and seven women to have repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by Time magazine.
Banks was born in Inglewood, California to Carolyn (née London), a business manager and medical photographer, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant.The couple divorced in 1980, when Tyra was six, although the relationship of her parents and especially her brother Devin (born 1968) stayed friendly. Later, Carolyn married Clifford Johnson; she now goes by Carolyn London-Johnson.
Banks would often parade around the family's duplex in her mother's high heels and long robes, play-acting at being a model. Banks attended Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, California, a popular Catholic girls' school, where her classmates made fun of her because of her height and weight. Prior to graduating in 1991, she wanted to pursue modeling. She was accepted to Loyola Marymount University. However, instead of attending the university, she moved to Paris to pursue her modeling career.
Within Banks's first week in Paris, other designers were so entranced by her presence on the runway that she was booked for an unprecedented 25 shows--a record in the business for a newcomer. She has done extensive print and/or runway work for fashion/advertising giants such as Anna Sui, Coors Light, CoverGirl, Badgley Mischka, Bill Blass, Cynthia Rowley, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Gemma Kahng, H&M, Isaac Mizrahi, Maria Snyder, McDonald's, Michael Kors, Milk, Nicole Miller, Nike, Inc., Oscar de la Renta, Pepsi, Perry Ellis, Randy Kemper, Richard Tyler, Rifat Ozbek, Swatch, Todd Oldham, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, XOXO, and Yves Saint Laurent. She has appeared on the covers of such magazines as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. Banks was the first African American woman on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In 1997, she received the Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year. Also in '97, she was chosen for the cover of the Victoria's Secret catalog, making her the first African American to be so honored. Banks retired from modeling in May 2005 to concentrate on her television show. She walked the runway for the final time at the 2005 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. On numerous occasions, she has been sought after to appear in Playboy magazine, however, she has turned each request down.
Television & film
Banks' television career began on the fourth season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which she played lead character Will's ex-girlfriend Jackie Ames, and made eight appearances throughout the series. Other screen credits include Felicity, MADtv, Nick Cannon's Wild 'N Out (in which she was featured as special guest host and team captain), and The Price Is Right (guest-starring as a Barker's Beauty).
Currently, Banks can be seen on television as the hostess, head judge, and executive producer of the UPN (now the CW) television show America's Next Top Model. In addition, she does double duty as the host of The Tyra Banks Show, a daytime talkshow aimed at younger women, premiered on September 12, 2005 and recently began its third season, drawing over 1.9 million viewers an episode. The show features stories about everyday people mixed in with celebrity interviews, much like the early format of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Under the slogan "Every woman has a story...and it happened to Tyra too", Banks promotes her show using emotional flashbacks to her own childhood and adolescence. Many of the episodes deal with issues facing women today. The first two seasons of the show were taped in Tyra's hometown of Los Angeles, but beginning with the fall 2007 season, the show moved to New York City.
On the big screen, Banks has had minor roles in a few movies. Her first big screen role came in 1995 when she co-starred in the critically acclaimed drama Higher Learning. She went on to co-star with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life. Other notable roles include 1999's Love Stinks, 2000's Coyote Ugly, and 2002's http://bestuff.com/http://bestuff.com/Halloween: Resurrection.
Banks appeared in several music videos including Michael Jackson's "Black or White",Tina Turner's "Love Thing", and George Michael's "Too Funky" (with fellow supermodel Linda Evangelista). In 2004, she recorded her first single, "Shake Ya Body", which had a music video featuring the America's Next Top Model, Cycle 2 contestants.(Music Video) The video had its world premiere on UPN, but the single was a failure for Banks. She stated on Cycle 2 of Top Model that "Singing has been a passion of mine for a long, long time...6 years on the down low - been ducking in and out of studios cutting tracks," but on her talk show she stated, "I can't believe I wasted 6 years of doing something that I didn't finish...I was almost able to release my album 'T.Y.R.A' but since my music career hit rock bottom I quit." On her show, she commented to Carmen Electra, "Girl, that makes the two of us with music videos that people didn't like."
Though "Shake Ya Body" was a failure, record producer Darkchild told JET in 2004 that Banks "has what it takes to pull it off...she had a hungriness to want to be in the studio all the time. Some people want to be divas in the studio and work for three or four hours. You had to tell Tyra to stop or she will keep you going".As for her voice, Jerkins stated, '"People will be shocked. She can really sing, she's like between soprano and high alto. I challenged her vocally. I pushed her, but not too far. I pushed her where vocally it fit the track."
Banks released a single with NBA star Kobe Bryant, titled "K.O.B.E.", which was performed on NBA TV, and had a single/soundtrack from the Disney movie Life-Size called "Be A Star". She also sang in the musical/movie Eight Crazy Nights.