Ethnicity: African descent
Tyra Lynne Banks 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 world’s top-earning models.
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. She 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 booked 25 shows in the 1991 Paris Fashion Week. Banks appeared in editorials for American, Italian, French, and Spanish Vogue; American, French, German, and Spanish Elle; American, German, and Malaysian Harper’s Bazaar; V; W and Vanity Fair. She appeared on the covers of magazines such as Elle; Harper’s Bazaar; American, Italian, German, British, Turkish, French and Spanish Vogue; Cosmopolitan; Seventeen and Teen Vogue. She walked in fashion shows for Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Anna Sui, Christian Dior, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Herve Leger, Valentino, Fendi, Isaac Mizrahi, Giorgio Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Michael Kors and others. She appeared in advertising campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Halston, H&M, XOXO, Swatch, Victoria’s Secret, Got Milk?, Pepsi and Nike. 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.
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In 1997, she received the VH1 award for “Supermodel of the Year”. That year, she was the first African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, and became a Victoria’s Secret Angel. In 2010, Banks re-signed with her former modeling agency IMG Models. Banks is now a contributor of the Vogue Italia website.
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In 2003, Banks created and began presenting the long-running 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. She remained executive producer for the revival of the series, and enlisted Rita Ora as host for the twenty-third cycle before reassuming the duties herself for the upcoming twenty-fourth cycle. Banks was 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 co-hosted the talk show FABLife for two months. In 2017, Banks replaced Nick Cannon as host of America’s Got Talent for its 12th season.
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. Banks is one of four African Americans and seven women to have repeatedly ranked among the world’s most influential people by TIME magazine.