Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What You Don't Know About Tyra Banks

We'll lay it on the line right from the get-go. There's NOT a lot that people don't know about Tyra Banks. After all, she exposes herself a gazillion times a week for all the world to see on her talk and reality shows. If anyone knows how to talk about herself, it's Tyra. Still, we were able to unearth a few gems about America's Top Self-Promoter that you probably don't know.

Fresh Princess 
Just a few years after conquering the runway, Tyra tried her hand at acting. Her first part was as Jackie Ames, Will Smith's old friend and love interest on season four of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." She made seven appearances on the hit show before Will moved on to movie stardom and Tyra went back to the runway.

Tyra Lies About Oprah
As a promo for the show "The Moment of Truth," Tyra was strapped to a lie detector and asked, "Are you jealous of Oprah Winfrey?" Ms. Banks told a bold-faced lie. "No, I am NOT jealous of Oprah Winfrey." But the lie detector doesn't lie, and the announcer declared in a soothing voice, "That answer is FALSE." Tyra had to come clean. Even though she got her start in the talk show world as a "youth correspondent" for Oprah, and even though there were rumors that Oprah was grooming her to take over her show, she's TOTALLY jealous of Oprah... and her money... and her girls school in Africa... and her house in Santa Barbara.

Facing Her Deep-Sea Fears
In 2006 Tyra finally found the nerve to face her biggest fear. She went to Sea World in San Diego and got in a giant pool with a vicious, ferocious, intimidating sea creature: A DOLPHIN. Who in the world has a fear of dolphins? Haven't we all fantasized about swimming with them ever since we watched "Flipper"? Well not Tyra. She's been plagued by these nightmares since she was a child. But she bravely hugged, kissed, and danced with Sea World's Buster the Dolphin and moved on with her life.

Tyra's Seal of Approval 
Almost a decade before Heidi Klum met and fell for musician Seal, Tyra had a five-month romance with the British soul singer. We're not sure why it didn't work out. Clearly, he has a thing for supermodels. Maybe it has something to do with her fear of creatures from the sea.

Her Arch Nemesis: Naomi 
According to Banks, Naomi Campbell threw tantrums backstage when Tyra was given a dress that she wanted to wear and that Naomi had her removed from a photo shoot. At the time, Naomi was the reigning black supermodel, while Tyra was the new kid on the block. For 14 years a bitter rivalry ensued. It wasn't until Tyra invited Naomi onto her talk show that the two kissed and made up.

African-American Fashion Trifecta 
In 1996 Tyra did what no other black model had been able to do before: achieve the Fashion Trifecta. She graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, GQ magazine, and the Victoria Secret catalog all in one year. Take that Naomi!

Tyra Can't Sing
Having tackled modeling, talk shows, sitcoms, movies, and reality TV, Tyra thought it was time to try music. After all, she had been in videos for Michael Jackson's "Black or White," Tina Turner's "Love Thing," and George Michael's "Too Funky." How hard could it be? So in 2003 she paid $30,000 out of her own pocket to make a music video for her first single, "Shake Ya Body." It debuted on the second season of "America's Next Top Model," of course. The girls were in it... you guessed it... shakin' their bodies. What wasn't shakin'? Tyra's singing career. She never really got that one off the ground.

Girl in the Hood 
Tyra dated "Boyz N the Hood" director John Singleton for three years in the '90s. In fact, her first film role was in one of Singleton's movies, "Higher Learning," starring opposite Omar Epps. Singleton assured Tyra that she got the part for her acting chops, not through any favoritism for his supermodel girlfriend. Ya, sure. We believe you.

Tyra's Self-Esteem Boot Camp 
In 1999 Tyra found a new audience to whom she could talk about herself: teenage girls. At least this time, she actually made a difference. Tyra's TZONE was a camp for inner-city Los Angeles-area girls aimed at building their self-esteem. Tyra told the girls that even supermodels have insecurities and that all young women need to resist social pressures and be FIERCE. The camp is no longer operational, but TZONE still provides funding for programs working to improve the lives of girls.

Tyra's Retired 
Tyra announced her retirement — at least from the runway. With her duties hosting a talk show and a reality show, producing two other reality shows, and all that teenage self-esteem building, Tyra has plenty to keep her busy. So in 2005 Tyra took her last turn on the catwalk at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show with fellow supermodels Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, and one-time nemesis Naomi Campbell by her side.

Written by Amy & Nancy Harrington
Originally for GetBack.com

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