Banks establishes Tzone, a Southern California camp aimed at building self-esteem in teenage girls. "I'm just 'BBQ' [her camp nickname], a girl like them," Banks tells PEOPLE. "It's important for me to let young girls know how much of it is smoke and mirrors. I still go to work and see people, my peers that make me feel insecure. I talk about that. I shed tears about that. It breaks down barriers."
The confident catwalker appears in the first-ever broadcast of the Victoria's Secret show, which makes waves as the lingerie-clad models incite indecency complaints to the FCC. Four years later, Banks will announce her retirement from modeling and make the glitzy event her last runway show.
Banks, a constant courtside presence at Sacramento Kings games, is linked to Kings forward Chris Webber. "She's my closest female friend," the NBA star says to PEOPLE in May. After a two-year romance and talk of an engagement, they split in 2004. Webber's rep confirms the two "broke up and remain good friends," telling PEOPLE, "at no time were they ever engaged."
Her success continues with the launch of her girls-go-high-fashion reality show, America's Next Top Model, on which women vie for a modeling contract. With the show still going strong for more than 11 seasons, Banks tells PEOPLE, "It makes me really proud that there can be a healthy model out there to show you don't have to resort to crazy means to get the type of figure you desire."
Six years after being a youth correspondent on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Banks, 31, pulls double-duty as host and executive producer of her own talk show. It is on The Tyra Banks Show that she faces rival supermodel Naomi Campbell. "One of the reasons I wanted to do this show is because sisterhood is so important to me," she says during their discussion.
Time names Banks one of the Most Influential People in the World, where Heidi Klum calls her a "whip-smart business mogul." She makes the list again the following year, with famed feminist Naomi Wolf writing, "What I love about Tyra Banks is that she is taking action. She has used her own weight gain…as a teachable moment to confront the culture and speak out to girls and young women about embracing their bodies in all sizes."
After tabloids and blogs run photos mocking Banks for looking heavier, she tells PEOPLE she's happy with her present figure, which is 30 lbs. heavier than her 2005 pre-retirement weight. Posing on the cover of PEOPLE, an empowered Banks says, "I still feel hot." Weeks later, with tears in her eyes and rage in her voice, Banks tells critics on her talk show, "Kiss my fat a--!" After launching her "So What" campaign that promotes positive body images, Banks is listed as one of PEOPLE's 100 Most Beautiful.
After moving her talk show to New York, Banks opens up to Essence about the lonely life she leads at the top. "I'd go to work and women would be crying in my arms on the talk show," she says. "But then I'd go home and put my key in my door and ... nothing: no friends, no husband, no children. I feel so full when I'm at work but so empty when I come home." Soon after, Banks begins dating investment banker John Utendahl, 50, whom she dates until 2011.
Banks, 34, wins her first Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show. "When you have a dream, there are going to be many people that tell you that you cannot do it, that you are not good enough," she says during her winning moment. "And I want you to tell them to kiss your dimply, flat, juicy, bootylicious, skinny, jiggly, saggy, fat a--!" In 2009, she takes the Emmy for the second consecutive year.
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