At this point, even though we won't spot her on the runway anymore, Tyra Banks is a legend in the modeling world. After all, the vast majority of models are probably not even recognizable by name to anyone outside the fashion industry.
Banks managed to have a successful stretch in the industry working as a model and transform that into a whole media empire. Now, even those who have absolutely no interest in or knowledge of fashion likely know who Tyra Banks is.
Banks got her start when she was young and managed to move from the worlds of swimsuit modeling to high fashion modeling with ease. Her unique look meant that plenty of brands wanted to book her, and she quickly became one of the most successful in the industry. Later, she decided to expand her empire by launching a reality television show, America's Next Top Model.
Banks has written books, she's hosted a talk show; she's done just about everything we could imagine. There's nothing in the media that she seems afraid to try, and that's why she's built such a huge brand for herself! Lately, though, she's taken a bit of a step back as she became a new mom and wants to spend plenty of time with her baby.
Want to learn more about the model turned entrepreneur? Here are 20 little-known details about Tyra Banks—and, of course, her adorable baby.
20 She Got Her Start In Modeling At Just 15 Years Old
It's no surprise that the world of modeling favors youth. There are a ton of models who get their start in their teenage years and are pretty much retired by the time they're in their mid-20s. Tyra Banks managed to stretch her years in the industry a bit longer than most, but she still started at a young age.
She grew very tall at a fairly young age, so she ended up getting her start in the industry when she was just 15 years old. It took a while before she truly became a smash hit, but she was booking back to back gigs before she even hit 18. Talk about impressive!
19 She Broke A Ton Of Major Barriers In The Industry
One of the things we love most about Banks is that she's not afraid to be a trailblazer. In fact, it was kind of a necessity at the time when she was getting her start! She's had a lot of phenomenal accomplishments in her professional life, but one of the ones she should be most proud of is the barriers she's broken.
For example, she became the first black Victoria's Secret angel to strut her stuff on the catwalk—since her, and perhaps because of her, plenty of gorgeous models of all races have had that opportunity. She was also the first black model to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The list of firsts goes on and on.
18 She Has An Older Brother From A Different Father
Though she's been in the public eye ever since she was a teenager, Tyra Banks isn't the type to share too much about her personal life. While most will know she's close with her mother, many fans may not know she has a brother—and he's not exactly the type to be all over social media. Banks' brother, Devin, who has a different father than Tyra, is six years older than her.
While Tyra slayed in the modeling industry, Devin took a totally different path and ended up serving in the United States Air Force for nearly 30 years. They're definitely from two different worlds, but that just means they have a lot to talk about around the dinner table during family meals!
17 She Surgically Changed Her Nose
The idea of a model getting a body modification seems a little bit strange. After all, don't models do what they do because they're genetically blessed? Well, kind of—models are definitely more visually attractive than the average person, but that doesn't mean they're immune to getting a little assistance every now and then.
Banks herself has admitted that she made some changes to her nose. While all her features are gorgeous, her nose was a bit askew after an accident she had as a child. She likely would have still been successful in the industry if she left it as is, but she made the decision to change it early in her modeling run.
16 She Almost Got A Role In Disney's The Princess And The Frog
Though the majority of her time in front of the camera has been spent hosting, such as her numerous seasons on America's Next Top Model, that doesn't mean Tyra can't show off her acting chops every now and then. She's had a few roles as a regular actress and actually nearly got a role as a voice actress in the Disney hit The Princess and the Frog.
We would have loved to hear Tyra as Princess Tiana! However, the issue lay in the fact that she wasn't a professional singer. Apparently, the casting team narrowed it down to three individuals, including Tyra. The only problem was, the other two were professional singers and just slayed the vocals more than Banks herself.
15 She Tried To Make It In The Music Industry
Huge fans of America's Next Top Model might remember the episode way back in Cycle 2 where Banks enlisted the contestants' help for a particularly personal challenge—the filming of her music video. Banks had worked with a team to create a club hit, "Shake Ya Body" and used the contestants in that season to be the dancers in the music video.
She definitely gave the music industry her all, working with a vocal coach and even a few different managers to try to make it happen. Ultimately, while she had the work ethic, there was just something a little bit lacking in her vocals and she didn't end up being successful at music.
14 She Had Several Unsuccessful IVF Attempts
We absolutely love the fact that more and more celebrities are getting real and honest about their issues, including struggles with infertility. Banks didn't try to become a mother until later in life because she was too busy building her empire. However, when she decided it was something she wanted to do, she ended up having to go through several in vitro fertilization attempts over the course of a year and admitted that it was really hard.
As she told ET Online, "It was emotional... I remember just thinking, 'Oh my god, I waited too long, like, why did I do this?... I was, you know, doing the rounds and stuff and then I create the embryo and I get the phone call, 'The embryo is not healthy.'... just really, really difficult."
13 Her Son Has A Great Relationship With His Grandmother
Though Tyra Banks has been in the modeling and entertainment industry for decades now, she's not a diva. She still prioritizes her relationships with friends and family, including her beloved mama. And, that's not something that changed once she had children—her mother is a huge part of her son's life.
According to Banks, 'Nana' and her son have their own rituals and love to interact with one another. Given that Banks has a busy schedule, we imagine it must be really helpful to have someone to help out from time to time. Sure, she could always hire a babysitter, but that's just not the same as getting a little TLC from nana!
12 Her Son Can Count — In Spanish!
Many people assume that celebrities simply don't have time to raise children and that their kids just end up spending all their time with the nanny. While there may be certain celebrities for whom that's true, it's definitely not the norm. There are plenty of celeb parents who are totally devoted to their child's development, and Banks is one of them.
In fact, her son can already count—in more than one language! As Banks told Vulture, "he is 2, and he is talking, talking, talking. He can count to 20 in English. He can count to ten in Spanish." Talk about impressive!
11 She's Teaching A Branding Class At Stanford
Banks may not have an actual MBA at this point in her life, but she's received plenty of on the job training in business. She's launched a ton of successful ventures! That expertise counts for a lot, and Stanford actually brought her in to teach classes in personal branding.
Banks seems to really love the world of academia, and she gushed about the experience to Vulture. "I'm going to be doing my second term teaching at Stanford Business School, personal branding," Banks said. "I cannot wait. I love my students and love teaching that class... I know I want to do a lot more teaching as the years go by."
10 She Was A Youth Correspondent For The Oprah Winfrey Show
Oprah Winfrey definitely had a huge role in Tyra Banks' life and is supposedly the one who helped her get her very own talk show (although Banks' didn't last quite as long as Winfrey's did). However, it turns out that their relationship goes further back than many assume.
Back in her younger years, Banks was actually a youth correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show! Her role there definitely wasn't as involved as her role on America's Next Top Model, but it was likely a great introduction to the world of television and everything that's involved. Plus, who doesn't want to see the master at work? Watching Oprah was probably like a crash course in television hosting.
9 She's Allergic To Dogs
Tyra Banks didn't have a mile-long list of diva demands on set as a model, but she did have a few stipulations. And, one of them was that she didn't want to work with dogs. It's not simply something she requested because working with dogs is a lot of effort and the shoot takes longer—it's because she's actually allergic.
So, you'll never see Banks sharing shots of her adorable adopted puppy on IG like many other celebrities do because her allergies simply wouldn't be able to handle that. Perhaps it's for the best—her busy lifestyle means that finding time for a pup would probably be pretty tough.
8 She Was Maid Of Honor At Kimora Lee Simmons' Wedding
Tyra Banks and fellow model turned entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons got their start at roughly the same time in the industry. They both started when they were quite young and reached crazy levels of success. Since the two have a fair bit in common, it may not come as a surprise that they ended up forming a strong friendship.
In fact, they're so close that Banks was the maid of honor at Kimora Lee Simmons' marriage to her now-ex-husband Russell Simmons. Given that Kimora was a mom for long before Banks was, we have a feeling TyTy will be calling up her bestie for advice and insight from time to time.
7 She Had Braces As A Kid
It's easy to assume that models never go through awkward phases and that they've always looked incredible. However, that's not always the case. Tyra has been open and honest about the fact that she had quite a few years where she was very tall and slender, in a way that many people bullied her for.
She also didn't always have the perfect smile she has today. In fact, Banks had braces for about two and a half years in order to earn that perfect grin. It was obviously a good choice—she's constantly smiling in photos, and her big smile is one of her trademarks.
6 She Made Her Television Debut On The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Many celebrities transition from one project to another in stages, but Banks has always been the type to work on as much as possible, all at once. While many assume she didn't start pursuing acting until she was finished modeling, that's not the case.
In fact, her television debut actually happened way back in the '90s, on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She didn't have a major role, but she definitely got some insight on what it was like to be on set and behind the scenes on a television show. Plus, she got to meet Will Smith—we wonder if the two are still close today!
5 She Has A Production Company, Bankable Productions
When it comes to business, Tyra Banks is one smart cookie. Many celebrities work with different production companies to make their dreams happen, and can end up in tricky situations if the production company has a different idea of what a project should be.
Banks doesn't have to worry about that because most of her major projects—like The Tyra Banks Show and America's Next Top Model—were run by her very own production company. She started her company under the name Ty Ty Baby Productions but decided to change it to the more mature Bankable Productions somewhere along her entrepreneurial journey.
4 Her Son's Name Is York
We have to admit we always love hearing what names celebrities have given their children. Some, like George and Amal Clooney, go for really traditional names. Others, like Gwyneth Paltrow, get inspired by fruit. There are many celebrities who think outside the box when it comes to naming their children—and Banks falls somewhere in the middle.
When it came time to name her baby boy, she picked the name York. It's not the kind of name you hear all the time, but it's also not so bizarre that he'll get teased when he's older. We love her name choice! Now, the question is, will York have any siblings, and if so, what will their names be?
3 She's Written A Series Of Books
Banks always seems to have another project on the go, and in between her television projects, she decided to enter the literary world. Although no, she didn't opt for serious literary fiction. Instead, Banks decided to write about what she knew best—the world of modeling.
She created a series, Modelland, that many fans loved and couldn't wait to get their hands on. The first in the trilogy was published in 2011 and even topped The New York Times Best Sellers list. We wouldn't be surprised if she had another series or two in the works—although it must be challenging to find the time to actually sit down and write!
2 She Modeled Her Bathroom And Bedroom After The Four Seasons Hotel
Over the years, Tyra Banks has done a ton of travelling. She's been across the globe, from Europe to Asia, walking the runway and shooting campaigns for different brands. So, it makes sense that her home decor would be somewhat inspired by her travels—apparently, she loves the hotel vibe that she experienced while globetrotting.
She decided to model her bathroom and bedroom after the Four Seasons New York. Talk about luxury! While many may find that kind of decor a little too impersonal, we imagine it's kind of calming to be in such luxe, neutral surroundings when you're getting ready for the day (or getting ready for bed).
1 She Never Really Partied During Her Modeling Years
The modeling world has a ton of potentially negative temptations. Many models end up signing a contract and find themselves spending more time partying than actually booking shoots. Tyra Banks was careful not to fall into that trap—she was always super responsible.
As she told Money, "while a lot of models were partying it up and going shopping and buying a closet full of designer clothes or staying at the top hotels during fashion week, I was at the Doubletree or Embassy Suites, saving up my money, and bought a house at 20 years old." Impressive! Obviously, her strategy paid off in the long term.
Sources: Fame10, People, ET Online, Vulture, E Online, IMDB