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A former supermodel, Tyra Banks turned her runway success into a multimedia brand and worked at the helm of two successful television series simultaneously.
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Tyra Banks quickly rose to the top of the Modeling charts, gracing the covers of hundreds of magazines and becoming the first African American woman to be on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Tyra Banks is the creator and host of "America's Next Top Model,"and was host of her own talk show. In 1996, she became the first African American woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
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Born on December 4, 1973, in Inglewood, California, Tyra Banks was a leading international fashion model, becoming the first black woman to land the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She later tried her hand at acting before creating and hosting her own reality TV show, Project Runway, followed by her own daytime talk show, for which she's won an Emmy Award.
"I went from being the popular girl who looked normal, to being considered a freak. It turned out that the best things [to happen to me] in my life were to be made fun of, and to have no friends, and to feel miserable every single day."
"I was taught to enjoy food, not to fear it."
Supermodel Tyra Banks was born on December 4, 1973, in Inglewood, California. Her father, Don Banks, was a computer consultant and her mother, Carolyn, was a medical photographer. Banks' parents divorced when she was only 6 years old, but she says that she was too young for the divorce to have much impact on her. "As far as I could see, I had it made," Banks remembers. "I stayed with Mommy on the weekdays and Daddy on the weekends. I had two birthday parties, two Christmases. Double the presents, double the love."
Banks says that she developed a love for food—and not always healthy food—from a very young age, devouring fried chicken, candied yams and pork chops at family gatherings. "I was taught to enjoy food, not to fear it," Banks recalls. She developed healthier habits, too, and began working out with her mother's exercise group at the age of 6. After her grandmother passed away from lung cancer, Banks also vowed never to smoke.
Banks confesses that she was somewhat of a "mean girl" in middle school. "I was popular, gossipy," she once recalled, adding, "and if I didn't want one of the other girls to be in the clique anymore, for whatever tiny little reason, I voted her out." When Banks attended Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, however, she found herself on the other end of the social food chain. A sudden growth spurt left her tall and gawky, and her classmates gave her cruel nicknames such as "Giraffe" and "Lightbulb Head." "I went from being the popular girl who looked normal, to being considered a freak," Banks remembers. Nevertheless, Banks says that the teasing and abuse taught her the importance of kindness. "It turned out that the best things [to happen to me] in my life were to be made fun of, and to have no friends, and to feel miserable every single day."
By 1989, at the age of 17, Banks had outgrown her awkward phase and begun to resemble the tall, curvy, caramel-skinned and green-eyed beauty who would light up runways and magazine covers for years to come. However, her first attempts to find a modeling agency were met with rejection and discrimination. Banks remembers that one agency said she looked "too ethnic" and another said that it "already had a black woman and didn't want another." Then in 1990, while still in high school, Banks landed a contract with Elite Model Management, the largest modeling agency in the world. Later that year, she shot her first print piece for Seventeen magazine. After graduating high school in 1991, Banks enrolled at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but decided to forego college when Elite offered to send her to Paris for high-fashion runway modeling.
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Taking on topics of politics, entertainment, women's issues and more, female talk show hosts have proven to be every bit as engaging, intelligent, and funny as their male counterparts. Oprah Winfrey's 25-year-reign as the queen of talk is unparalleled, but many other female talk show hosts have come into their own as well, including Tyra Banks, Ellen DeGeneres, Sally Jessy Raphael and Kelly Ripa.
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