was born in Los Angeles on December 4th, 1973, to a very loving
and supportive family. Despite the divorce of her parents when
she was only six years old, and the torments of her older brother
Devin, Tyra's youth was happy and trouble-free.
it might now be hard to believe, Tyra was a tall, skinny and
awkward adolescent. She was constantly teased by her brother
and her classmates, and often ran home crying to her mother
for comfort. Then, late in high school, everything changed for
her. She filled out her skinny frame, began to work out and
finally decided to become a model. Tyra pursued that goal with
the determination that now marks all of her activities.
after being turned down by four modeling agencies because they
thought her face wasn't photogenic, she was finally signed by
the Elite agency when she was 17.
instead of going to 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
Tyra began to diversify her activities, having a small part
in the British television movie, Inferno as a supermodel, and
then appearing on Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in a
recurring supporting role.
first real movie role came in John Singleton's Higher Learning.
She played Omar Epps' track-running girlfriend and though it
was a small role, critics were impressed by the intensity she
brought to the screen.
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 turn in a more believable
performance. When the film came out, movie offers began to roll
in, but Tyra chose not to act in just anything. Instead, she
continued her meteoric rise in the modeling ranks, appearing
on the covers of several magazines.
fact, she was the first African-American woman ever to be featured
on the covers of GQ magazine, the Victoria's Secret catalog,
and the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
made People Magazine's "50 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. She is rumored to have gone out with Michael Jordan, Tiger
Woods and... Mark Messier? Strangely enough, yes.
of the constant scrutiny inherent in celebrity relationships,
she returned to her high school sweetheart, a law student; but
that didn't protect her from the rumors, most recently linking
her with LA Lakers Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, and even Teresa Weatherspoon,
who plays for New York in the WNBA. In interviews, however,
Tyra often says that she is looking for a "Normal Guy",
albeit a tall one -- she measures 5'11".
appeared in one or two movies during this time, but only really
began to work in Hollywood last year, with a small part in Love
Stinks. Then, the year 2000 brought with it 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).
an important part in Coyote Ugly has brought Tyra back into
the limelight. She plays a wild bartender, which is quite ironic
because she has said several times that she doesn't drink alcohol.
doesn't watch what she eats, though, unlike most other models;
she has gone on record stating that she often eats barbecued
ribs, fried chicken wings, ice cream, and fast-food. In one
talk show appearance, Tyra proclaimed her love for Ketchup packets,
and argued that the sole purpose of french fries was to allow
you to scoop up puddles of ketchup.
how does she stay in shape? She plays lots of sports, particularly
basketball and tennis, and makes sure she always has fun while
future looks bright for Tyra Banks. She stars in two upcoming
movies, one of which -- Disney's Honey Thunder Dunk -- she will
also be producing, she is one of the richest supermodels in
the world, with a personal wealth recently valued at 8.8 million
dollars, and there were even rumors a few months ago that Oprah
Winfrey is grooming her to take over her show.