Tyra Banks, also known as BanX, is an American television personality, businesswoman and one of the most successful supermodels in history.
Tyra Banks was born in Inglewood, California. Her mother, Carolyn London (now London-Johnson), is a medical photographer, and her father, Donald Banks, is a computer consultant. She has a brother, Devin, who is five years older. In 1979, when Banks was six years old, her parents divorced. Banks attended John Burroughs Middle School, and graduated in 1991 from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. Banks has said that while growing up, she was teased for her appearance and considered an “ugly duckling”; when Banks was 11 years old, she grew three inches and lost 30 pounds in three months.
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When Banks was 15 years old, she started modeling while attending school in Los Angeles. She was rejected by four modeling agencies before she was signed by L.A. Models. She switched to Elite Model Management at age 16. When she got the opportunity to model in Europe, she moved to Milan.
In her first runway season, she booked 25 shows in the 1991 Paris Fashion Week. Banks appeared in editorials for American, Italian, French, and Spanish Vogue; American, French, German, and Spanish Elle; American, German, and Malaysian Harper’s Bazaar; V; Wand Vanity Fair.
She appeared on the covers of tens of magazines and walked in varying fashion shows for famed designers.
Banks was the first woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the first African-American woman on the cover of GQ. In 1997, she received the VH1 award for “Supermodel of the Year”. That year, she was the first African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, and became a Victoria’s Secret Angel. In 2010, Banks re-signed with her former modeling agency IMG Models. In 2013, Banks transformed herself into 15 supermodels, in collaboration with fashion photographer Udo Spreitzenbarth.
In 2019, Banks came out of her modelling retirement to pose for one of the three 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers; the other cover models being Camille Kostek and Alex Morgan. It marked her third cover for the publication, 22 years after her first. She also announced that she will now go by the modeling name BanX. Photo Credit: Getty