Tyra Banks grew up in Inglewood, California, a city in Los Angeles County. After beginning to dabble in modeling as a junior in high school, she decided to abandon college plans in favor of a full-time modeling career. After her first week on the runway in Paris, Tyra was booked for a record twenty-five shows—unprecedented for any newcomer to the modeling scene. Work came quickly, including print and runway campaigns for numerous big-name designers and companies. She also nabbed covers for a range of high-fashion and entertainment magazines, breaking barriers in the process: she was the first African American woman to grace the covers of GQ, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and the Victoria's Secret catalog. In 1997 she was honored with VH1's Supermodel of the Year award, and in 2005 she retired from modeling to focus on her television career. Today she is the host of both America's Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show. Outside of modeling and TV, she has appeared in several movies and at one point even pursued a music career, though that flopped after the release of her first single ("Shake Ya Body") in 2004. Tyra will join the Gossip Girl gang in the fourth episode of Season 3 as larger-than-life actress Ursula Nyquist. The role shouldn't be a stretch.