Famous Black Entrepreneurs Series: Tyra Banks

Everything you need to know about Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks posing for a picture at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center.

Kelly Sullivan / Getty Images 

Tyra Banks has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated's famous swimsuit issue, and she was widely known as the "face" of the lingerie brand Victoria's Secret.

However, behind the flawless face, Tyra Banks has a tremendous entrepreneurial acumen. As the creator of the hit television franchise "America's Next Top Model", Banks is the consummate example of a content mogul in action. 

Why America Loves Tyra Banks

In creating "America's Next Top Model," she exposed millions to the complex inner business workings of the modeling and advertising industries. She's an executive with a keen understanding of what it takes to be successful both behind and in front of the camera and has used that knowledge to build several entertainment properties that she has successfully grown and evolved over the years. 

The Early Life of Tyra Banks

Banks was born in 1973 in California to an upper-middle-class family. In high school, a sudden growth spurt caused her to be teased for her height. But once she signed with Elite Model Management, she learned to leverage her good looks into supermodel status. When the high fashion industry pressured her to lose weight, she decided to switch into lingerie and swimsuit modeling, where more natural curves are welcome. This career pivot paid off and in 1996, Banks became the first Black woman on the cover of GQ, and in 1997, achieved the same feat for Sports Illustrated.

In 2003, Tyra Banks made a foray into television, creating, producing, and hosting "America's Next Top Model", which was its network's top-rated show through its first six seasons. Expanding into daytime, Banks took the helm of the Tyra Show beginning in 2005 for six seasons.

In 2011, she launched the website typeF.com. Furthering her entrepreneurial education, Banks enrolled in a special certificate program for top executives at Harvard Business School and quickly launched her cosmetics brand, Tyra Beauty that utilizes a multi-level marketing distribution strategy. 

Tyra Banks Quotes

"I've helped some of my classmates on how to strategize to get to the next level of their businesses. And it's interesting, because here I am sitting there from the entertainment industry and the fashion industry, and I'm giving a billionaire that has a business that's been in his family for 300 years - I'm giving him advice about strategy." 

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks is the consummate example of someone who was able to take a subject she is expert in -- modeling -- and turn it into a larger, much more profitable empire. We're all experts in something. 

A content business is a great low start-up cost, simple-to-run way to make some extra revenue from something you hopefully know and love.

How can you profit with a content business? Consider the following options: 

  • Blogging -- can you create an entertaining blog that draws traffic and advertising revenue?
  • Affiliate marketing -- could you set up a bookstore or other shop online and earn money through affiliate fees?
  • Information products -- can you make a book or a course?