Tyra Banks is an American professional model, media personality, author, producer, actress, and businesswoman. The African American shot into the limelight as a model when she was only 15 years old and has since transitioned to be known for many things. She is also the first African-American woman on the covers of GQ magazine and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Banks was born on December 4, 1973, in Inglewood, California. At age 15, she started modeling while in high school. She was born to Carolyn London, who worked as a medical photographer, and Donald Bank, who worked as a computer consultant. Also, Banks is the second of her parents.
Banks was rejected by four modeling agencies in high school before landing a contract with L.A. Models. She moved to Milan when she was 16 years after inking a deal with Paris-based Elite Model Management.
Banks made her debut runway during the 1991 Paris Fashion Week. In 1993, she signed a deal with CoverGirl, an American cosmetic company. She subsequently returned to the U.S to pursue her modeling career.
Since then, she has inked multiple modeling contracts, making her one of the few Black models to attain supermodel “status.” Banks has walked in fashion shows for Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Valentino, Fendi, Isaac Mizrahi, and Giorgio Armani.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, she has also appeared in advertising campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Victoria’s Secret, Pepsi, Nike, among others. In addition, Banks has posed for the covers of Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Spanish Vogue, Cosmopolitan, among others.
Banks became a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 1997 and was also featured in Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalog as the first Black woman, according to Celebrity Net Worth. She was named ‘Supermodel of the Year’ by VH1.
She starred in a number of movies, including ‘Higher Learning’ in 1995, ‘Love Stinks’ and ‘Love & Basketball.’ Also, she bagged the major role of Eve in the Disney Channel telefilm ‘Life-Size’ in 2000.
Following her success in modeling and acting, she started her own production. She launched Ty Ty Baby Productions now operating as Bankable Productions, which is responsible for producing both the reality series America’s Next Top Model, which first aired in 2003, and her daytime talk show The Tyra Banks Show (2005–2010).
Banks is also an executive producer of Dancing With the Stars and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model (today known as “BanX”).
Her success as an actress and a model, in addition to her various reality shows, tells that she has accumulated a substantial amount of money. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tyra has an estimated net worth of $90 million as of 2021. Despite the fortune she has amassed, she has a frugal lifestyle. She is so frugal that her accountants once told her that she had to spend some money as she was just paying too much taxes.
“I was always more interested in experiences over things,” she said in an interview with MONEY. “Things didn’t make me happy. I saved, saved, saved. But I saved to a fault. About 15 years ago, my accountants pulled me aside, and they were like ‘Tyra. You’re not spending money. Nothing. You’re just giving it away to the government. You need to spend some damn money!’”
Banks thus created an “F Account,” which stood for “Frivolous Account.” She spent it on what she called “stupid stuff.”
“In hindsight, I should have bought art and things that appreciated,” she said. “I was getting private planes, nothing to show for it. It was a private-plane kinda moment for me.”
Banks got her frugal lifestyle from her upbringing. When her parents divorced, she and her brother moved into a one-bedroom apartment with their mother. Their mother slept on the living room floor while Tyra and her brother slept in the bedroom. After a year, they moved to a two-bedroom apartment. Later, they lived in a three-bedroom apartment until Tyra was 20 years old when she bought her first house. Her mom had at the time taught her all she needed to know about money.
Her show, The Tyra Banks Show, won two Daytime Emmy Awards, in 2008 and 2009, for ‘Outstanding Talk Show/Informative’. She has also been repeatedly voted as among the world’s most influential people by Time magazine.
She also received a non-degree certificate from Harvard Business School so as to start her cosmetics company, Tyra Beauty.