One of the iconic Black supermodels of 1990s who broke boundaries while gracing magazine covers and runways, Tyra Banks is a major part of the fashion industry. Born in the 1970s, Tyra was a staple of the ‘90s. And of course, who can forget her impact on reality TV with the controversial show “ANTM”? Today, she’s known for more than just being a supermodel. Her strong work ethic and personality have helped her build an empire.
In an interview with “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit”, she spoke of the importance of representation for other little girls who looked like her, hoping that she would make African-American children feel more beautiful in a world with unattainable beauty standards. Although the Tyra Banks transformation has been a major one, she’s still stayed true to herself through the entire journey.
A healthy childhood
As a kid, she maintained a healthy level of physical activity and never smoked. She also had a healthy appetite for food. As a child, her role model was Angela Black, a Black news anchor who was on TV in a prominent position, showing Banks that anything was possible. Although her childhood was filled with love, she also experienced bullying at school due to her tall and skinny body type.
Early career success
Those bullies would regret their words soon after when Banks signed a contract with Elite Model Management at the young age of 17. The high fashion world fell in love with her, and Banks ultimately moved to Paris to get more work, booking a whopping 25 runway shows in 1991. She said it was her sassy walk that helped make her so desirable.
Unfortunately, when she started gaining work, she had to move back to the US for more job opportunities. That’s ultimately how she got into swimsuits and lingerie – curvier girls simply weren’t on the couture runway. In 1993, she earned a contract with CoverGirl, cementing her supermodel status.
The first Black woman on “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition”
In 1997, Tyra Banks made history by being the first solo African-American female to get her own “SI Swimsuit” cover. The same year, she became a Victoria’s Secret Angel and even was honored with wearing their famous Fantasy Bra in 1997 and 2004. Banks revealed that when she auditioned to be an Angel, the hairdresser messed up her hair, which almost ruined her chances.
An acting career in the cards
This multi-talented queen proved that she wasn’t just a pretty face when she landed her guest role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. It was there that Tyra discovered her love for acting. Along with booking high-profile roles in movies like “Life-Size”, “Coyote Ugly” and “Love & Basketball”, Banks still managed to keep her modeling career going. She also featured in several famous music videos and made cameos in TV shows.