By Calynn M. Lawrence
Tyra Banks is one of the most popular fashion models in the media today and she doesn’t even model anymore. How? Well, with a long history of having her hands in several different business ventures, she has grown her empire to encompass many aspects of not just fashion modeling but leadership, beauty, entertainment, television, education and creative writing!
How does such a success story even begin their career? Well, Tyra Banks began modeling at the tender age of 15 years old. She was reportedly rejected by 4 modeling agencies before she signed to L.A. Models and then later moved to Elite Model Management a year later. In her first year of high fashion runway, she topped the charts by booking 25 shows as a rookie at Paris Fashion Week. After such, she was given features across magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Teen Vogue.
Within her career she has a host of reputable accomplishments such as being the first black model on the covers of both GQ magazine and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, having been featured twice. Through the ocurse of the years, she has modeled for dozens of household deisgners such as Christian Dior, Dolce & Gobanna, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta and many more!
One of her biggest and most impressive contracts in her modeling portfolio is her work as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. She signed with them in 1997, being the first ever African American Angel. She began as a catalouge model and progressed to being one of the signature faces of the brand up until 2005. She was a crowd favorite not only because of her fierce feminine presence and killer style but because she represented a completely different image in the world of modeling. She was no where near the standard size 2 for the industry. In fact, observers have estimated her to have been approximately a size 6 throughout her time with Victoria’s Secret. She is certainly one of the model pioneers who really drove the brand to success.
She has had two main television ventures in her career. This would be her modeling competition “America’s Next Top Model” and her talk show “The Tyra Banks Show.” America’s Next Top Model had a running time of over 12 years with 22 seasons (“cycles”), making it one of the longest airing competition television shows in history. Her work on that show helped dozens of models to be able to find their path in the industry, sharpen their skill, gain experience and learn the ropes. The Tyra Banks Show was a talk show aimed at young women to provide mentorship in every aspect of female life from business to beauty to boyfriends. because of her success with this show, she won two consecutive Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Informative Talk Show.” It had a great track record through out its 5 years!
Now, Tyra Banks has shifted her career to focus on her philanthropic endeavors such as her TZONE public charity. This is a charity that began as a program for adolescents to gain skills in leadership, development and business. It is now much more than that. Tied along with it, she offers a scholarship, The Tyra Banks Scholarship, for teen girls of color to attend her alma mater Immaculate Heart High School. This is alongside her other charitable pursuits.
With all of this, Tyra Banks remains the highest paid African American supermodel in history with an estimated net worth of $90 million! Wow.
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