Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks

Dec 04, 1973-

Tyra Banks is a model, media personality, author, actress and businesswoman. Sometimes referred to as "the next Oprah," Banks and the media titan definitely do have a lot in common. Oprah Winfrey has even commended Tyra, saying that she has done a good job inspiring and mentoring young women on The Tyra Banks Show, which won two Daytime Emmys.

However, one thing Oprah probably wouldn't do is tell critics to "kiss my fat ass," as Tyra famously did on her show in 2006 after her weight was scrutinized.

Banks is certainly no stranger to scrutiny. When she first tried to enter the modeling business, Banks was reportedly rejected many times and told that she was "too ethnic." At the time, the most well-known working black model was Naomi Campbell. Tyra and Naomi were immediately pitted against each other as rivals, implying there wasn't enough room for two beautiful black women on the runway. Tyra steadfastly forged on and broke ground when she became the first African-American woman to appear on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in 1996.

In the late 1990's, Tyra began to scale back her high-fashion modeling and eventually made her way to TV. By 2003, Tyra had her own show, America's Next Top Model, which became a huge success. Tyra started a second show in 2005, aptly entitled The Tyra Banks Show. The talk show gave Tyra the platform she had been seeking to speak out on women's issues. On the show, Banks encouraged women to be confident and accept their bodies just as they were. The show also showcased some of Tyra's more kooky personality traits. One of the more memorable moments was when Tyra rolled around on the floor after she gave her live studio audience her favorite skincare product, Swarovski encrusted tubs of Vaseline.

Tyra and her Vaseline exited The Tyra Banks Show in 2010, saying that she wanted to leave while she was ahead of the game, as the show was still doing well in the ratings. Tyra continues to host America's Next Top Model and is actively pursuing other entrepreneurial ventures.   

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