Tyra Banks is an American model and actress best known for creating, producing and hosting the reality competition show America's Next Top Model; and for hosting her own talk show, The Tyra Banks show.
Managed for many years under the eye of her mother Carolyn London, Tyra began her career when she was a teenager in the competitive world of fashion. Highly sought-after by designers for runway shows around the world, Tyra was soon catapulted into supermodel status.
Her universal appeal found her signed to exclusive contracts with Victoria's Secret as well as CoverGirl. By the time she retired from the runway in 2005, Tyra had become recognised as a fashion icon and trailblazer, becoming the first African-American model to grace the covers of GQ magazine (which also named her Woman of the Year 2000), Sports Illustrated, and the coveted Victoria's Secret catalogue.
In 1992, Tyra's desire to give back led her to establish the Tyra Banks Scholarship, a fund that grants African-American girls the opportunity to attend her alma mater, Immanuel Heart High School, an all-girls private school in the Los Angeles area.
In 2000, Tyra created TZONE, a Los Angeles-based program designed to enhance independence and self-esteem in teenage girls. TZONE began as an annual summer camp experience, but it has since grown into a year's worth of activities.
Tyra also wrote Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out (HarperCollins). In it, she writes about beauty, fashion, health, and fitness and candidly shares her personal struggles with self-confidence, her modeling experiences, her relationships, and more.
Tyra began her television career with parts in both TV and film, having co-starred with Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, appeared in the critically acclaimed film Higher Learning, directed by John Singleton, and The Wonderful World of Disney movie Life Size with Lindsey Lohan, and starred in Coyote Ugly, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
She also had a recurring role in the drama series Felicity.
Tapping into her expertise in the modeling industry, Tyra created America's Next Top Model, which debuted in 2003. The show quickly became a phenomenon and was UPN's most watched program for six cycles.
In 2006, Top Model was chosen to launch the brand new CW Network. The premiere was the best ever in the 18-34 demographic and one of the largest viewing audiences in the show's history.
Top Model is also a hit internationally, with the American edition appearing in more than 100 countries (including South Africa) and an additional 20 countries adapting their own version.
Fulfilment of a longtime desire to host her own daytime show came in 2005 with the launch of Tyra's five-day-a-week talk show The Tyra Show. Surpassing expectations, it became the highest rated new show in first-run syndication among young women.
Season two brought an NAACP Image Award in addition to six Daytime Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Talk Show. The show won the 2008 and 2009 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show.
The Tyra Show, which taped in New York City and ran five seasons.
Because of her commitment to female empowerment, Tyra has been recognized for many inspirational achievements. Time magazine named her as one of their 100 Most Influential People in 2006 and 2007, and Forbes magazine included her in their Celebrity 100 list in the same years.
Women's Wear Daily ranked Tyra the number one most recognized supermodel, and her charitable works have been cited in Newsweek. In August 2007, she won The Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Personality.
Tyra has graced the covers of Shape, People, Redbook, Essence, and Harper's Bazaar. Cosmopolitan magazine has recognized her as a 2008 Fun, Fearless Phenom, and she was a recipient of the Glamour magazine 2008 Women of the Year award.
Additionally in 2008, Banks was awarded GLAAD's highest honor, the Excellence in Media Award, for her work for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.