Now that the 2012 Summer Olympics are underway, I am feeling all patriotic. As I root for my fellow American athletes in volleyball, boxing, swimming and gymnastics, I also reflect upon the work of American models in the world of Victoria's Secret. I have just recently featured a short bio with career highlights for American model Chanel Iman. But let's take it back to old school Victoria's Secret ... let's take it all the way back to the era of Tyra Banks.
I did not really start paying attention to Victoria's Secret until Tyra Banks graced their runway and landed on several of their covers. Tyra Banks is the first African-American model to land not only a Victoria's Secret catalog cover, but also to land a GQ cover as well as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover. Her career skyrocketed into mega-supermodel stardom when she landed that famous 1996 SI Swimsuit cover with Valeria Mazza both dressed in leopard-print swimwear. Victoria's Secret followed SI's footsteps and placed Tyra Banks on the cover of their 1997 VS Swim catalog also dressed in a leopard-print bikini. Imitation truly is the best form of flattery. Here are the pics from both of these features that I love so much:
Tyra Banks was born on December 4, 1973 in Inglewood, California near Los Angeles. Tyra is beautiful both inside and out and has such a lively personality. She was and still is very successful in many television shows. Currently she is still producer and host of the very successful and popular America's Next Top Model. She also had a talk show named The Tyra Banks show which she won two daytime Emmy Awards for Best Talk Show-Informative in 2008 and 2009.
She has made many television cameo acting appearances. I just loved her on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Will Smith's girlfriend. Her television acting led her to the big screen and one of her best movie performances was in the 1995 movie "Higher Learning." This was her first movie role. She went on to star in the movie "Coyote Ugly" and "Life Size." She had a small acting role in "Love and Basketball" and has acted in several other movies. She wrote a successful beauty book encouraging young woman to embrace their own beauty. She even recorded a song and dabbled a bit in singing. She has been featured in many music videos and is perhaps one of the most successful business women out of the original 1990's Victoria's Secret angels. She is the second African-American woman to receive a long-term Cover Girl contract. Her list of accolades go on and on and on!
Tyra Banks broke many racial barriers and continues to collaborate with others to promote beauty diversity. She is still the most popular African American Victoria's Secret model even though she retired from modeling in 2005 to pursue her career as a talk show and t.v. personality. Noone commands that Victoria's Secret runway the way Tyra Banks did. Here is a breakdown of her VS fashion show appearances:
MAY 2000 (Walks in 2 of 4 Segments)
NOV 2001 (First televised Victoria's Secret Show. Walks in 3 of 4 Segments)
NOV 2002 (Walks in 3 of 4 Segments, Opens the 3rd Segment)
NOV 2003 (Walks in 3 of 5 Segments)
2004 (Participated in Angels Across America - no fashion show this year)
NOV 2005 (Last appearance before announcing her retirement from lingerie modeling. Walks in 3 of 6 Segments, Opens 2nd Segment, Closes 6th Segment, Closes the Show!)