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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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Banks rose swiftly through the ranks of fashion modeling to become one of the world's top supermodels. She booked 25 runway shows while in Paris in 1991, an unprecedented feat for a newcomer to the industry. But by the mid-1990s, Banks began to gain weight, a forbidden sin in the world of rail-thin clothing models. Unwilling to starve herself to achieve the desired physique for high-fashion models, Banks decided to return to the United States and switch to swimwear and lingerie modeling,
where curvier models are more welcome. "I made my living being 20 or 30 pounds heavier than the average model," Banks says. "And that's where I got famous. Victoria's Secret said I sold more bras and panties than anybody else, and I was traipsing down that runway with 30 pounds more booty than the other girls."
In 1996, Banks became the first black woman to appear on the cover of GQ as well as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. A year later, she became the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of a Victoria's Secret catalog. She signed lucrative contracts with both Cover Girl and Victoria's Secret, becoming a staple of both companies' advertising campaigns and runway shows. Tyra Banks has been named multiple times to People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list. In 1997, she received the prestigious Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year, and she has also won two Teen Choice Awards for Favorite Supermodel.
In addition to her modeling work, Banks has also occasionally pursued acting work. She made her acting debut in 1993 with a seven-episode stint on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 2000, Banks appeared in a trio of popular films: Love & Basketball, Coyote Ugly and the made-for-TV movie Life Size. More recently, she guest-starred in an episode of the CW's popular teen TV-soap Gossip Girl.
In 2003, Banks ventured into the world of reality TV when she created, produced and hosted the UPN show America's Next Top Model. The show, which pits aspiring models against each other in a competition for the label of America's Next Top Model, was UPN's highest-rated show through its first six seasons. In 2006, Top Model was chosen to headline the newly created CW television network. The show, with nearly 20 seasons under its belt, continues to draw enormous television audiences.
Banks expanded into daytime television with her own talk show, The Tyra Show, in 2005. The show's most famous moment came in February 2007, shortly after several unflattering pictures of Banks in a bathing suit surfaced in tabloid magazines. Banks marched onstage wearing the same bathing suit and told critics to "Kiss my fat ass!" She picked up a Daytime Emmy Award for her work on the show in 2008—a feat she repeated the following year as well. In 2010, Banks said good-bye to her talk show after five years on the air. She told People magazine that she decided to end her program to focus on "bringing positive images of women to the big screen."
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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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