Tookes was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. She has a younger sister, who is 19 years her junior. She did gymnastics for ten years and was also active in volleyball and softball before she became a model at about the age of 15. Her mother is a celebrity fashion stylist. Tookes was discovered at one of her mother's showroom appointments.
As a child, she was inspired by Tyra Banks. Tookes is of mixed ancestry. African, Brazilian, and West Indian. She is in a relationship with Danish model Tobias Sorensen.
Tookes' first commercial ad campaigns were in 2010 for ugg boots and Gap. Before breaking out on the international scene, she booked a Spring 2011 DKNY campaign and a layout in Vogue Italia.
when Oprah Winfrey saw Tookes perform on the catwalk in October 2011 at the "Lincoln Center Presents: An Evening With Ralph Lauren", Winfrey extolled Tookes' buttery soft skin and requested that Tookes "Rub your face against mine." Models.com named Tookes as one of the top 10 new models in a September 27, 2011 fashion week post.
Tookes was selected by Style as its top new model in November 2011 based on her work for the Spring Fashion Shows. She was one of eleven new models for the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2012.
The 2012 show was taped in November and broadcast on the CBS network on December 4.The night before the airing of the fashion show, Tookes and fellow Victoria's Secret models Behati Prinsloo and Jacquelyn Jablonski guest starred on the December 3 "Ha'awe Make Loa" episode of CBS' Hawaii Five-0. French Vogue named her as one of its 10 New faces from fall/winter 2012-2013 Fashion Week.
Tookes has appeared in editorials for Italian, American, French, German, and Spanish Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Numéro, W, and V.
She has walked the runways for Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Carolina Herrera, Moschino, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Shiatzy Chen, Herve Leger, Ermanno Scervino, Giorgio Armani, Philipp Plein, Missoni, Jason Wu, Alberta Ferretti, Emilio Pucci, Balmain, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Giambattista Valli, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Trussardi, Marchesa, Tory Burch, Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Paco Rabanne, Helmut Lang, Louis Vuitton, DSquared2, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Prada, Jill Stuart, rag+bone, Miu Miu and Versace.
She has appeared in advertising campaigns for Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein, Lancôme, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Gap, Ugg, and Victoria's Secret
In 2015, she became a Victoria's Secret Angel. Tookes was selected to be spotlighed with the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Fantasy Bra (worth $3 million in 2016) at the 2016 show.