The creativity of author, designer, broadcaster Ben Arogundade
Celebrity Ancestry: Tyra Banks’s Heritage: Is She Black, White, Biracial, Other? 100,000 Fans Google Her Ethnicity, Nationality, Parents Race & Family Background
TELEVISION STAR AND FORMER MODEL Tyra Banks’s ethnicity and heritage seem hard to place for many fans who Google details about her ancestry and her parents racial background and origins. By Ben Arogundade. Mar.16.2021.
TYRA'S HERITAGE: Is Tyra Banks, presenter of America's Next Top Model, black, white, mixed race, part-Native American? The facts about the former supermodel's ethnicity, nationality, age and her parent’s ethnic background are the subject of intense Internet search activity.
TV CELEBRITY AND FORMER supermodel Tyra Lynne Banks was born in Inglewood, California on December 4, 1973. Her parents are both African Americans. Her father, Donald Banks, is a former computer consultant, and her mother, Carolyn London, is a former medical photographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. The couple divorced in 1979 when Tyra was six years old.
TYRA'S ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY
Many of Banks’s legions of fans around the world are intrigued about her ethnicity and nationality. They gaze at her café-au-lait colored complexion on their TV’s and mobile devices and ponder whether she is black, mixed race, or part-Native American. In fact, the phrase, “Tyra Banks ethnicity” is Googled approximately 1,000 times per month by curious fans across the globe. Her fans curiosity about her extends to her whole body. Google also records 5,000 monthly searches for the variants, “Tyra Banks’s nationality, parents race, ethnic background and heritage”, each month. The total number of search queries about her heritage amounts to over 100,000 per year.
The curiosity about Banks and her ethnic background is further fuelled by the fact that the ex-model and presenter of TV show, America's Next Top Model, also possesses naturally green eyes. People of African descent almost exclusively have brown eyes, but other colours do occur naturally, either as the result of a genetic defect or mutation, or else due to the presence of European ancestry within the genealogy of both parents of the carrier. Other well known examples of this include music celebrity Rihanna and French former supermodel Noemie Lenoir, both of whom have naturally green eyes, and TV and actress Vanessa Williams, whose eyes are blue.
BANKS ETHNICITY FACTS SETTLED VIA DNA
In 2014 Banks decided to put all the questions about her ethnicity and racial heritage to bed once and for all by submitting to an ancestry DNA test. “People have been asking me my entire life, what’s my family history,” she said. “I’m a proud black woman who was born in America. I’m proud of that, but I’m super curious as to what else is running through my veins.” The results revealed that Banks possesses three out of a possible four population groups within her ancestry. She is 79 per cent African, 14 per cent European and six per cent Native American.
BLACK BEAUTY STRUGGLES
Tyra's ethnicity had both a positive and negative impact on her early life. As a schoolgirl she was teased by fellow straight-haired classmates for wearing her natural Afro hair — a fact that resulted in her developing an insecurity about her looks. “I didn’t feel as beautiful as them,” she recalled on The Tyra Banks Show back in 2007. “As an adult I know that’s wrong now, but there is something still embedded in me, because I heard it over and over again as a child.” Tyra’s story resonates with that of many African American women, whose choice of straight hair and weave hairstyles is driven by similar childhood taunts.
FASHION, HAIR, POLITICS
However, Tyra got her own ugly-duckling-to-swan moment as she started modelling, when suddenly her looks proved an advantage. “I've had bookers tell me, ‘You’ve got light skin and green eyes. You’re easy to sell,’” she told Cosmopolitan in 1993. And sell her they did, as she went on to become the first African American fashion model to feature on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, as well as securing an exclusive contract as a Victoria’s Secret model.
But in order for the fashion industry to sell Tyra’s beauty she had to conform to their conventions for long straight hair. “That's what ‘beautiful’ is supposed to look like — and that’s how I make my living,” she said matter-of-factly. “I couldn’t have done that with my natural hair.”
Hi there. I am a London-based author, journalist and broadcaster. Tyra Banks features in my illustrated book, ‘Black Beauty’, released in 2000 (now sold out). Discover more about me and my work at Ben Arogundade bio.
MOTHER & FATHER: Television celebrity and ex-model Tyra Banks as a child, with her mother Carolyn London. Teenage Tyra flanked by her mother and father, Donald Banks. Tyra’s naturally green eyes are the result of European ancestry present within both her parents.
*TYRA BANKS’S ETHNICITY, NATIONALITY, PARENTS RACE - ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Tyra Banks ethnicity”, each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the variants, “Tyra Banks’s nationality, parents race, ethnic background and heritage”, each month.
*All figures for “Tyra Banks’s Ethnicity, Nationality, Parents Race - According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.
TYRA BANKS INTERVIEWS HERSELF - 2020
More About Ethnicity, Ancestry, Beauty