Black Celebrity: Tyra Banks

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Born on December 4, 1973, in Inglewood, California, Tyra Banks was a leading international fashion model, becoming the first black woman to land the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She later tried her hand at acting before creating and hosting her own reality television show, America’s Next Top Model, followed by her own daytime talk show, for which she’s won an Emmy Award.

By 1989, at the age of 17, Banks had outgrown her awkward phase and begun to resemble the tall, curvy, caramel-skinned and green-eyed beauty who would light up runways and magazine covers for years to come. While still in high school, Banks landed a contract with Elite Model Management, the largest modeling agency in the world. Later that year, she shot her first print piece for Seventeen magazine.

“I made my living being 20 or 30 pounds heavier than the average model,” Banks says. “And that’s where I got famous. Victoria’s Secret said I sold more bras and panties than anybody else.”