She's more than just a pretty face! In honor of Tyra Banks' 48th birthday on Dec. 4, 2021, Wonderwall.com is taking a peek at the former supermodel's secret double life… as a super-successful entrepreneur. Tyra's hard work has paid off: She's worth an estimated $90 million! Keep reading to see the model-actress-author-producer-TV personality-entrepreneur juggle her many roles…
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Tyra Banks exploded onto the style scene in the early '90s. She started modeling at 15 and at Paris Fashion Week in 1991, the Los Angeles native booked an unprecedented 25 shows (including Yves Saint-Laurent, pictured here). Not bad for a 17-year-old fashion newbie!
Tyra Banks became a Victoria's Secret Angel in 1997, the same year she became the first Black woman to be featured in the brand's lingerie catalog. She was a fixture on the VS runway (including here, at the Ninth Annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City in 2003).
Fresh-faced Tyra Banks was already thinking beyond the runway in 1998, the year she published her first book, "Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out." It would end up being the first of three books (so far!) authored by the model — including one that became a bestseller.
Tyra Banks (here with fellow Victoria's Secret Angels Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and Gisele Bundchen at an event in Miami in 2004) has never revealed how much she earned from her incredible modeling career. But Forbes reported that at her peak, Tyra earned $50,000 a day and had a lingerie contract worth $4 million a year.
She scored a role on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 1993, but budding actress Tyra Banks made a big-screen splash in 2000. She starred alongside Maria Bello, Piper Perabo, Bridget Moynahan and Izabella Miko in "Coyote Ugly," a box office hit that raked in $114 million.
Tyra Banks upped her bankability even more in 2000 when she starred in "Life-Size," a movie about a girl (played by a young Lindsay Lohan) who accidentally brings her doll (played by Tyra) to life. The Disney telefilm became a cult classic and Tyra went on to reprise her role as a living doll 18 years later…
Tyra Banks was happy to step back into her iconic role as Eve, a doll that comes to life (this time without Lindsay Lohan), in "Life-Size 2." The Christmas special premiered on Freeform in December 2018.
In 2003, Tyra Banks created the uber-successful reality TV competition show "America's Next Top Model," which she executive produced and hosted for 22 seasons until the series' cancellation in October 2015. "I made a career [modeling], so I can't just say, 'Oh, what I did was so horrible' — I did it for 20 years," Tyra (seen here with "ANTM" judge J. Alexander, aka Miss J, in 2015), told ABC News in 2009. "But I was never the typical model. I planned for the end at the beginning — it was a career and a business for me. I used my platform to expand what beautiful is to people."
Tyra Banks launched "The Tyra Banks Show" in 2005. The former supermodel used the talk show to address issues faced by young women, whether famously going out in a fat suit to experience life as an obese person or dancing in a New York City flash mob (pictured). The show won two Daytime Emmy Awards and ran for five seasons. According to Good Housekeeping, Tyra earned a cool $18 million a year for the gig.
Tyra Banks won two Daytime Emmy Awards for "The Tyra Banks Show" — and behind the scenes she founded Ty Ty Baby Productions, which produced both that show and "America's Next Top Model." The talented multi-tasker had multiple gigs during this era, and in 2009 (when this Emmy-kissing photo was taken), Forbes reported that Tyra was earning $30 million a year.
In 2011, Tyra Banks added New York Times' bestselling author to her resume. Her first novel, "Modelland" — based on her life and experiences in the industry — shot up to the No. 2 spot on the Times' list for children's chapter books.
When she launched Tyra Beauty in 2015, Tyra Banks called it a "cosmetics experience, not a cosmetics line." Without makeup, she said, "I would have never been a supermodel. I don't wake up with naturally sculpted cheekbones — I paint them on! I believe makeup is the great beauty equalizer." In a rare miss for the savvy entrepreneur, the company failed to thrive and went out of business less than two years later.
She skipped college to pursue her red-hot modeling career, but Tyra Banks made up for lost time in 2011 when she enrolled in Harvard Business School's nine-week course for CEOs and top executives. In 2016, she turned the tables and joined the faculty at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, where she co-taught a class called "Project You: Building and Extending Your Personal Brand" — something she knows a little something about. "They were necessary so I did not become obsolete," Tyra (pictured in 2016 ringing the Nasdaq closing bell at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco) told Forbes about the many chapters of her professional life. "I couldn't model forever; I needed a plan and I needed to change."
Tyra Banks put her author hat back on in 2018, this time writing a book with her mom, Carolyn London, called "Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss."
How does she find time to sleep? Tyra Banks spent two seasons hosting "America's Got Talent" before leaving the NBC show in 2019.
At 45, Tyra Banks graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue in 2019 — 23 years after she became the first Black woman ever featured on the magazine's cover. That same year, she announced that she was changing her professional name to "BanX." "As much as we've progressed with beauty, there's still a long way to go of opening up the door and redefining what it means, and so that X stands for 'X what you heard about what beauty means,'" Tyra told "Entertainment Tonight." "We are making a new rule that so many more people can fit into this beauty box. Let's bust the box open."
We all scream for… Tyra Banks' growing empire! The business-minded beauty leaped into yet another industry in July 2021 when she opened SMiZE Cream in July 2021. With a shop in Santa Monica, California, and an online delivery business, Tyra's new venture is "a super-premium ice cream with an edible surprise in every cup" that retails for $13 per 14-ounce container, named after her signature modeling move: smiling with the eyes.
Dancing queen! After Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews' shocking departure from "Dancing With the Stars" midway through 2020, Tyra Banks became the solo host — and an executive producer — beginning with season 29. Her salary hasn't been revealed, but the gig has surely added to her sizable bank account (Tom reportedly earned $150,000 per episode for 10 to 12 episodes per season).