The Bite Magazine - Spring 2019 - Issue 24

Icon Model Profile Dawn Hunt delves into the life and multifaceted career of model and television personality Tyra Banks who has achieved so much and is still going strong. bite model profile Tyra Banks T yra Banks - the name, the face, the body, and the legend. Hailing from Inglewood, California, this incredible self-made woman has forged such an amazing career for herself that she’s now a globally known household name. She began modelling at the age of 15 which would later go on to make her one of the first African American women to be featured on the cover of GQ Magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue twice. She then took on her first television role in 1993, created her own cosmetics brand, had a singing and film acting career, co-wrote several books and was a guest lecturer at Stanford University, not to mention earning an Owner/President Management Program certificate from Harvard Business School after completing a nine-week program in 2012. She’s also become a shining philanthropist and has established a scholarship program and supported numerous charities. Is she Wonder Woman? Maybe. And while it’s easy to think that Miss Banks has it all, one must remember that with so much success comes an enormous amount of work and persever- ance. Born on 4th December 1973 Banks had a typical childhood. She and her older brother lived with their parents until their divorce when she was six-years old. She attended John Burroughs Middle School, and graduated from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, in 1991. However, like many children, Banks has shared that she was often teased and bullied about her appearance and was called ‘ugly duck- ling’. By the time she turned 15, Banks had grown to be 5’10 and very slim, the perfect physique for a model. She went to four agencies and was rejected by each one before finally be- ing signed by L.A. Models, and then switched to Elite Model Management at the age of 16. From that point on, Bank’s modelling career took off like a rocket. She was a new face in the fashion world and a welcomed change to the sameness that had come before her. She moved to Milan and modelled around Europe while posing for major editorials in publications like Spanish Vogue; American, French, German, and Spanish Elle; American , German, and Malaysian Harper's Bazaar; V; W and Vanity Fair. She also walked in over 25 shows during her first runway season in 1991 for Paris Fashion Week. After this amazing initial success, she would continue to rise in the ranks of the modelling world by working with such brands as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, Fendi, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Oscar de la Renta. Through working with so many amazing brands, Banks was able to achieve what only a select few models will ever dream of doing in their careers, and it was because of this success that launched her into supermodel status by the mid-1990s. In 1993, she signed with Cover Girl Cosmetics, which would feature her in ad campaigns all over the world as one of the first black models to earn such a contract and further solidify her status as a supermodel. Soon after this, Banks returned to the States to continue commercial modelling. In 1997, she became the first African American woman to grace the cover of GQ and the first woman to be featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. She also received the VH1’s ‘Supermodel of the Year’ Award and was the first African American woman to be featured on the cover of Victoria’s Secret catalogue as well as walking in their much beloved catwalk show as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. To say this was a big year for Banks is truly an understatement - this chic was killing it! For the next several years, Banks would continue to be one of the industry’s highest ranked and most revered models, prov- “Never dull your shine for somebody else” - Tyra Banks