Tyra Banks

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Real Name: Aaliyah Haughton, Tyra
Birthday: 12/04/1973



It's difficult to think that a celebrity who is known for her good looks was turned down by model and talent agencies because of her height. But Tyra Banks, who stood 5 feet 12 inches by the time she was sixteen, did not have what agents called a "camera-friendly figure". 

It was not until 1991 that the Elite Modeling Agency gave Tyra her big opportunity. Putting off college, she moved to Paris to model for the big names in fashion including Ralph Lauren and Chanel. At eighteen, she traveled back to the United States and started to build her career in the modeling business.

Banks got her first acting job appearing as a supermodel in a British television movie "Inferno" (1992). The role started a new passion for her after which, she beat out several famous sexy celebrities for the role of Will Smith's love interest in "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" (1993). 

The show introduced her as Jackie, Will Smith's "sexy" girl friend turned romantic love interest. The audiences loved her, so producers developed a recurring role for the young actress.

Tyra Banks first movie experience was in the movie directed by John Singleton called "Higher Learning" (1995), with Jennifer Connelly. In "Higher Learning", Banks played Omar Epps smart, athletic romantic love interest and girlfriend. She showed that she was not just another supermodel trying to break into a Hollywood career. After "Higher Learning" was released, the movie offers started to pour in, but she tried to choose her roles carefully. She continued her rise in the modeling industry while waiting for just the right film project.

Tyra was the first African American woman ever to be featured on the covers of "GQ", "The Victoria Secret" catalog, and the famous "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue". Banks made "People's 50 Most Beautiful People" list in both 1994 and 1995. But she often told reporters that she didn't feel beautiful, and she wrote the illuminating book "Tyra's Beauty Inside and Out", giving tips on how to look and feel beautiful.

In 1999, Tyra Banks started to focus more on quality movies. She was cast to play Kyra, the wife in the comedy "Love Stinks" with Tiffani Thiessen, Christian Slater and Bridgette Wilson. In 2000, she was cast in a supporting role as Epp's fiancée in "Love and Basketball" (2000). 

Tyra also took a starring role in the Disney television movie "Life Size" with troubled star Lindsay Lohan, where she plays a doll brought to life by a little girl's wish. Later that year, she was hired for "Coyote Ugly" as Zoe, an unruly bartender. She also starred in the summer horror movie "Halloween: Resurrection." with Jamie Lee Curtis (2002), and was selected to host and producer the reality show "America's Next Top Model" for the UPN network in 2003.  

Each season, the television show puts a new group of aspiring  supermodels through a series of tests and challenges as they compete for a professional contract. Viewers were fascinated by her exacting brand of tough love for the new stars.

One of the richest and most successful supermodels in the world, it was suspected in 2004 that Oprah Winfrey was grooming her to succeed her when she leaves her show. 

In 2005, Tyra Banks scored her own smash hit television show, the fittingly named “Tyra Banks Show” (2005- ), an Oprah Winfrey style talk and variety show aimed at a younger female audience. Instead of friendly conversation, stories of affliction, or sexy celebrities declaring endless love while jumping on couches like Tom Cruise did on the Oprah show, she focused on teaching young women in managing their lives, families and relationships, with a little modeling action thrown in for excitement.


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