Wahpeton, ND - On any given day, drivers winding through Fargo may pass a number of billboards without giving them a single thought, but life-long residents of Wahpeton will surely recognize the new one featuring the blond-haired and blue-eyed Melissa Duerr.
The 2002 Wahpeton High School graduate headed to Fargo to work as a booking agent at Academie Agencie and never turned back. She credits those first years at the agency for helping her realize the importance of being its top model and giving her the necessary steps she needed.
At 19, Duerr learned the ropes of the modeling industry as a booker, scheduling all of the appointments for models."All of the knowledge I learned behind the scenes helped me build my career as a model," she said. "As a booking agent, I realized how certain qualities are important, as far as just being reliable and committed. So I guess that's how I got interested in modeling."
After realizing that she wanted to pursue a career in modeling, she spent one year at the Salon Professional Academy, a cosmetology school in Fargo.
"There's no client that never needs to hire a makeup artist, and I just did it myself," she said. "It all works together."
Then Duerr started teaching a runway instruction class at the agency, doing hair and make-up for the photo shoots. It wasn't too long before she began work as a full-time hair stylist and makeup artist at Hair Success in North Fargo, and this year she added to the busy roster by teaching a class on wardrobe, which covers the basics on incorporating personal style with the rules of fashion.
As she juggles regular work with modeling, days can get long. On an average morning, Duerr is ready to work from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. as a model or teaching a class, and then from 2:30-9 p.m. she heads to her station at Hair Success.
"It gets pretty busy, but it's fun," she said. "I enjoy it."
Modeling jobs usually arrive at the last minute, and Duerr will get a call only a day or two before the job will begin. One of her first shoots was for a promotional bit in Las Vegas called "Hotwalkers", and would be featured in various gambling spots around the city. She was nervous.
"I did whatever I possibly could, but I was so nervous because I didn't know how the pics would turn out," she said. "But when I saw them I was surprised, because the pics were actually phenomenal. I guess you just have to try your best and put everything into it."
At the shoot, Duerr met CarriDee English, the Fargo native who went on to win Season 8 of Bravo's America's Next Top Model. The two became close friends for awhile, "but I haven't heard from her since," she laughed.
Duerr has been seen in spreads for Microsoft Magazine and the The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, as well as being featured annually in the KFYR Bismarck and KVLY Bridal show. One year she attended the International Model and Talent Convention in New York City, which gathers all of the agents and models around the world in one setting. Duerr found a surprising perk at this particular event.
"I got an opportunity to judge a makeup competition for thousands of models, and I was sitting next to the this lady who just happened to be the makeup artist from Seinfeld," she laughed. "Here's little me from Fargo, but they all said I was welcome to judge. It's kind of funny, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
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