Banks began modeling in the 11th grade. She later went to Paris, France to do some runway modeling. Within Banks' first week in Paris, other designers were so entranced by her presence on the runway that she was booked for an unprecedented 25 shows a record in the business for a newcomer. She has done extensive print and runway work for fashion/advertising giants, such as Anna Sui, CoverGirl, Bill Blass, Chanel, Victoria's Secret, and Yves Saint Laurent. She has appeared on the covers of high-fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. In 1999, Tyra Banks established the TZONE program, which aimed at leadership and life skills development. In 2005, TZONE transformed from a camp into a public charity, the Tyra Banks TZONE Foundation.
Banks has appeared in several music videos, including Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Tina Turner's "Love Thing", Mobb Deep's "Trife Life", George Michael's "Too Funky" (with fellow supermodel Linda Evangelista) and Lionel Richie's "Don't Wanna Lose You". In 2004, she recorded her first single, "Shake Ya Body," which had a music video featuring the final six contestants on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 2. The video was world-premiered on UPN, but the single turned out to be a failure. Banks released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant, entitled "K.O.B.E.," which was performed on NBA TV. She also has a single on the soundtrack to Disney Channel's Original Movie Life-Size called "Be A Star."