Tyson Beckford was born December 19, 1970, in New York, although he was raised in Rochester, NY and Jamaica. His exotic looks can be attributed to the fact that his father is Jamaican and his mother is Chinese/American. Growing up in Rochester drove a teenage Beckford to a life of gangs, drugs and theft. Admittedly, he would have ended up in jail sooner or later, but thankfully for him, he had a chance to leave the streets and head to the glamorous life of a male model, thanks to a twist of fate.
In 1991, an editor from the hip-hop magazine The Source found Beckford. This led to Beckford signing with a New York modeling agency, and to a life of cameras and runways. Beckford began to do photo shoots for big-time fashion photographers Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber, who eventually led to his involvement with Ralph Lauren. Weber introduced Beckford to Lauren, and in 1993, Beckford was hired for Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport fragrance and clothing lines. Signed exclusively to Ralph Lauren, Beckford could also add the covers of Essence and Paper, as well as fashion spreads for magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Details, Men's Health, Vibe, and The New York Times, to his long resume.
1995 was a huge year for Beckford, who was named VH1's "Model of the Year" and one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. He was also making the leap to the small screen, with a starring role in Toni Braxton's video for "Unbreak My Heart", and appearances in music videos for artists Mia X, Notorious B.I.G., and Shaquille O'Neal. Television audiences are surely familiar with Beckford by now, after having appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Magic Hour, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Mad TV, Entertainment Tonight, VH1, as well as commercials for Polo Jeans.
Beckford also hopes to pursue a film career and has taken acting classes to perfect the trade. He has already appeared in the film, Boricua's Bond (2000), and he was also cast in his first feature film, Punks(2000). He has a brief appearance on Zoolander(2001) In the meantime, Beckford is working on an exercise video, and keeps busy riding and collecting motorcycles, snowboarding, reading, and hoping to someday beat Dennis Rodman's amount of tattoos (he already has 8). Whether he successfully makes the leap to the silver screen or goes down in history as the man with the most tattoos, Beckford has certainly come a long way from his past rebellious days on the street.