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Fargo native still thriving six years after winning 'America's Top Model'

Model CariDee English won "American's Next Top Model" in 2006. The Fargo native has expanded her career beyond modeling and is a spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation, a role for which she's well prepared, having dealt with the skin condition since she was a child. She has shot television commercials and magazine advertisements, at right, for the cause. Special to The Forum

LOS ANGELES - Since winning "America's Next Top Model" in 2006, CariDee English has done plenty of modeling shoots.

But last month, the Fargo native was crossing her fingers for a new opportunity - a spot in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

English had just met with the magazine's representatives earlier in the day, so nothing was guaranteed and she was hesitant to even discuss it.

Yet, the opportunity seemed to represent a concept important to her personal philosophy, beyond just another modeling shoot.

"I normally don't like to talk about something that I'm just going out for and it's not sure," English said during a phone interview from her Hollywood Hills home. "But I feel it's important to mention, no matter what point you get to in your career, there's always another level you can achieve."

English's own career started when she won "America's Next Top Model" and its $100,000 contract with CoverGirl. Since then, she's continued to model, though she's expanded her horizons to other professional pursuits as well.

After suffering from the skin condition known as psoriasis ever since she was young, English has been an advocate for psoriasis treatment. She worked with Sen. Kent Conrad on legislation in 2007 to support research of the condition.

Additionally, as the spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation, English has filmed television commercials and shot magazine advertisements for the cause.

"I'm proud to be the spokesperson," she says. "I've done a lot of psoriasis work, and I'm proud of my commercial."

English is also delving in to the music industry. She's recently recorded a few songs with a member of the rock band Better Than Ezra on material that she says will be released soon.

"It's something that's constantly evolving," she says of her singing and recording career, adding that the material has elements of electronic dance music.

She's working independently on her own songs, too, which she describes as having more of a hard-rock feel.

"That's my favorite genre," she says. "I play the drums, so I like things that hit pretty hard."

Beyond that, she's also trying to stay involved with television. She appeared on an episode of WB's "One Tree Hill" in 2006 and an episode of "Gossip Girl" in 2007. A few years later, she hosted the Oxygen Network's reality show "Pretty Wicked," which ran until 2010.

Now, English says she's developing a television show with Australian talk show host Lyndsey Rodrigues, whom she met through a Cosmo Magazine interview.

Without getting into too much detail, English says the show has to do with travel.

"It's a funny show, with me and her," she says. "It's really funny; it's just a hot mess."

Personally, things are going well for her, too. She and her boyfriend recently purchased their Hollywood Hills house together and are looking forward to what comes next.

"We're excited to take the next chapter," she says. "We're really looking forward to starting a family."

'You can honestly make anything happen'

Even with music, modeling and the Los Angeles lifestyle, English hasn't forgotten her North Dakota roots.

Last summer, she returned home to Fargo to see family four different times, she says, which helped to remind her about how far she's come.

"I fully realize what I've accomplished," she says. "I know I have so many great things now. It's all very good, but back in Fargo, those were very simple times for me."

For those that know her, English's transition from small-town girl to high-profile lifestyle is remarkable not for what she's accomplished, but how she's accomplished it.

Brittany Posey, a close friend of English's since the "Top Model" days, says English attributes her success to nothing more than hard work.

This was never more apparent than when Posey wanted to become a publicist after college. English, who was living in Los Angeles at the time, invited her friend out to live with her to pursue her dream.

"She said, 'What better place than L.A.?'" Posey, who now lives in Fargo, recalls.

In the three months of living in English's spare room, Posey says she came to see firsthand how her friend believed and embodied the idea that anyone can find success if they want it.

"She was so excited about having a friend that was following her dream," Posey says. "She told me, 'What do you want? You can honestly make anything happen.' "

"She believes so fully in the American Dream, and it's just so contagious," Posey adds.

A few days after meeting with the Sports Illustrated representatives, English found out that she wouldn't be getting a modeling shoot in this year's Swimsuit Edition. She was turned down and wouldn't be adding the magazine to her growing list of accomplishments.

She speculated beforehand that her tattoos could end up having something to do with it - "I have a lot of tattoos. Like 20, so it's always interesting when I go out for the swimsuit shoots," she says.

Whatever the reason, though, she's not too surprised or upset. She's come to realize since winning "America's Next Top Model" that "no" is just a part of her life now.

But that's why it's important to keep trying, she says.

"There's rejection all the time," she says. "But I hope people know it's always important to strive."