Tyra was born in Los Angeles on December 4th, 1973, to a very loving and supportive family. Despite the divorce of her parents when she was only six years old, and the torments of her older brother Devin, Tyra's youth was happy and trouble-free.
Though it might now be hard to believe, Tyra was a tall, skinny and awkward adolescent. She was constantly teased by her brother and her classmates, and often ran home crying to her mother for comfort. Then, late in high school, everything changed for her. She filled out her skinny frame, began to work out and finally decided to become a model. Tyra pursued that goal with the determination that now marks all of her activities.
And after being turned down by four modeling agencies because they thought her face wasn't photogenic, she was finally signed by the Elite agency when she was 17.
So, instead of going to Loyola Marymount College, Tyra moved to Paris for a year and modeled for many of the big names in fashion, including Ralph Lauren and Chanel. She then moved back to the States and continued modeling, rocketing her way up through the ranks.
Soon Tyra began to diversify her activities, having a small part in the British television movie, Inferno as a supermodel, and then appearing on Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in a recurring supporting role.
Tyra's first real movie role came in John Singleton's Higher Learning. She played Omar Epps' track-running girlfriend and though it was a small role, critics were impressed by the intensity she brought to the screen.
She was definitely not just another supermodel playing at being an actress -- her performance was the real thing. She even did some distance-running training, in order to turn in a more believable performance. When the film came out, movie offers began to roll in, but Tyra chose not to act in just anything. Instead, she continued her meteoric rise in the modeling ranks, appearing on the covers of several magazines.
In fact, she was the first African-American woman ever to be featured on the covers of GQ magazine, the Victoria's Secret catalog, and the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
She made People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful" list not once, but twice, and even wrote a revealing book about her life, Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out. She also had a few high-profile relationships, first with John Singleton and then with pop singer Seal. She is rumored to have gone out with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and... Mark Messier? Strangely enough, yes.
Sick of the constant scrutiny inherent in celebrity relationships, she returned to her high school sweetheart, a law student; but that didn't protect her from the rumors, most recently linking her with LA Lakers Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, and even Teresa Weatherspoon, who plays for New York in the WNBA. In interviews, however, Tyra often says that she is looking for a "Normal Guy", albeit a tall one -- she measures 5'11".
Tyra appeared in one or two movies during this time, but only really began to work in Hollywood last year, with a small part in Love Stinks. Then, the year 2000 brought with it a supporting role in the popular independent film Love & Basketball, and a starring role in the made-for-TV Disney movie Life-Size (in which she played a doll brought to life by a wish).
Now an important part in Coyote Ugly has brought Tyra back into the limelight. She plays a wild bartender, which is quite ironic because she has said several times that she doesn't drink alcohol.
She doesn't watch what she eats, though, unlike most other models; she has gone on record stating that she often eats barbecued ribs, fried chicken wings, ice cream, and fast-food. In one talk show appearance, Tyra proclaimed her love for Ketchup packets, and argued that the sole purpose of french fries was to allow you to scoop up puddles of ketchup.
So how does she stay in shape? She plays lots of sports, particularly basketball and tennis, and makes sure she always has fun while exercising.