Tyra Lynne Banks (born December 4, 1973) is an American media personality, actress, occasional singer, former model and businesswoman. She first became famous as a model in Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo and New York, 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 and is co-creator of True Beauty. She also hosts her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show.
In 2009 she was honored by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) with the Excellence in Media Award.
Tyra Banks was born in Inglewood, California, the daughter of Karolyn (née London), a fashion manager and NASA photographer, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant. The couple divorced in 1980, when Banks was 6 years old. However, the relationship between her parents, and between her and her brother Devin Banks (born 1968), stayed friendly. Later, Carolyn married Clifford Johnson; she now goes by Carolyn London-Johnson. Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. She was accepted by colleges such as USC and UCLA for television producing.
Move into television and film
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, 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."
Currently, Banks can be seen on television as the hostess, judge and executive producer of The CW Television Network show America's Next Top Model. In addition, she hosts The Tyra Banks Show, a daytime talk show aimed at younger women, which premiered on September 12, 2005. The show features stories about everyday people mixed in with celebrity interviews, much like the early format of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Under the slogan "Every woman has a story...and it happened to Tyra too," Banks promotes her show using emotional flashbacks to her own childhood and adolescence. Many of the episodes deal with issues facing women today.
Banks and other experts give women advice on fashion, relationships and more. The first two seasons of the show were recorded in Banks' hometown of Los Angeles but, beginning with the fall 2007 season, the show moved to New York City. 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 went on to co-star 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).
Tyra Banks is stripping down to promote the new season of The Tyra Banks Show, which will premiere on September 8, 2009 on The CW.
Bank's has confirmed that she will appear in the fourth episode in Gossip Girl in the 3rd season as Ursula Nyquist, a larger than life actress who'll work with Serena.
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