Supermodel. Born December 4, 1973 in Inglewood, California. Tyra Banks' father, Don Banks, was a computer consultant and her mother, Carolyn, was a medical photographer. Banks' parents divorced when she was only 6 years old, but she says that she was too young for the divorce to have much impact on her. "As far as I could see I had it made," Banks remembers. "I stayed with Mommy on the weekdays and Daddy on the weekends. I had two birthday parties, two Christmases. Double the presents, double the love."
Banks says that she developed a love for food—and not always healthy food—from a very young age, devouring fried chicken, candied yams and pork chops at family gatherings. "I was taught to enjoy food, not to fear it," Banks recalls. She developed healthier habits, too, and began working out with her mother's exercise group at the age of 6. After her grandmother passed away from lung cancer, Banks also vowed never to smoke.
In 1996, Banks became the first black woman to appear on the cover of GQ as well as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. A year later, she became the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of a Victoria's Secret catalog. She signed lucrative contracts with both Cover Girl and Victoria's Secret, becoming a staple of both companies' advertising campaigns and runway shows. Tyra Banks has been named multiple times to People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list. In 1997, she received the prestigious Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year, and she has also won two Teen Choice Awards for Favorite Supermodel.