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      Model/Talk Show Host
      "A smart model is a good model," Tyra Banks was once quoted as saying, and she seems destined to prove it in every way. Now widely known as one of the world's foremost supermodels, Banks began her modeling career at the age of 17 with the Elite agency after flirting with attending c... read more
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      Bio

      "A smart model is a good model," Tyra Banks was once quoted as saying, and she seems destined to prove it in every way. Now widely known as one of the world's foremost supermodels, Banks began her modeling career at the age of 17 with the Elite agency after flirting with attending college at Loyola Marymount. The 5'11" beauty was quickly discovered in Los Angeles, her birth city, and offered a healthy contract with cosmetics company Cover Girl -- becoming only the third African-American woman in the world to secure such an opportunity.

      An American model, media personality, actress, occasional singer, author and businesswoman. She first became famous as a model, but television appearances were her commercial breakthrough. Banks is the creator and host of the UPN/The CW reality television show America's Next Top Model, co-creator of True Beauty, and host of her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show.

      Tyra Banks was born in Inglewood, California. She is the daughter of Carolyn (née London; now London-Johnson), a medical photographer, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant. She has a brother, Devin, who is five years older. In 1980, when Banks was 6 years old, her parents divorced. Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. She was accepted by USC and UCLA but declined to attend, instead pursuing a career in modeling.

      Banks began modeling in the 11th grade. She later went to Paris, France to do some runway modeling. She has done extensive print and/or runway work for fashion/advertising giants, such as Anna Sui, CoverGirl, Bill Blass, Chanel, Victoria's Secret, and Yves Saint Laurent. She has appeared on the covers of high-fashion magazines such 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 VH1 award for Supermodel of the Year. That same year, she became the first-ever African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria's Secret catalog.

      In 2010, Banks re-signed with her former modeling agency IMG Models.

      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. She made seven appearances in the series. Other TV credits include Felicity, All That, MADtv, Nick Cannon's Wild 'n Out (in which she was featured as a special guest host and team captain) and The Price Is Right (guest-starring as a "Barker's Beauty"). She also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode entitled "Chinatown."

      Tyra Banks started her own production company, Bankable Productions (at first called "Ty Ty Baby Productions"; she did not rename it till the second cycle of America's Next Top Model), which produced The Tyra Banks Show, America's Next Top Model, and the 2008 movie The Clique.

      Banks is the hostess, judge and executive producer of The CW Television Network show 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.

      In 2008, Banks won the Daytime Emmy Award for her work and production on The Tyra Banks Show.

      In late-January 2008, Banks got the go-ahead from The CW Television Network to start work on a new reality television series based on fashion magazines called Stylista. The show premiered on October 22, 2008.

      Banks's first big screen role came in 1994, when she co-starred in the drama Higher Learning. She then co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life and has to learn how to live in the real world. Other notable roles include Love Stinks (1999), Love & Basketball (2000), Coyote Ugly (2000) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). She and Miley Cyrus poke fun at the excesses of the Hollywood lifestyle with a battle over a pair of shoes in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009).

      Banks appeared in the fourth episode of the third season of Gossip Girl playing Ursula Nyquist, a larger-than-life actress who works with Serena.

      Banks has appeared in several music videos, including Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Tina Turner's "Love Thing", Mobb Deep's "Trife Life", George Michael's "Too Funky" (with fellow supermodel Linda Evangelista) 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 the final six contestants on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 2. The video was world-premiered on UPN, but the single turned out to be a failure.

      Banks released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant, entitled "K.O.B.E.," which was performed on NBA TV. She also has a single on the soundtrack to Disney Channel's Original Movie Life-Size called "Be A Star."

      Banks announced in May 2010 that she would be writing a novel, titled Modelland, loosely based on her own modelling experience. Published September 2011, it is the first of a planned three-part series. On an interview with Good Morning America, Banks stated that Modelland is the story of four girls who are accepted into an "exclusive" modelling school in the world of Modelland.

      In 1998, Banks authored a book entitled Tyra's Beauty, Inside and Out.

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