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Wilson looks to make her mark in world of modeling
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There are two very diverse paths McMinnville resident Shelby Wilson walks each week – the brick sidewalks that take her to classes as a senior at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, and the fashion runways that are taking her to a career as a full-time model.
Shelby, whose father has retired from the military, was raised in several places around the world, including Italy and South Korea. The family returned to Middle Tennessee six years ago to be near extended family.
Her father, Mitch, is a native of McMinnville, and her mother, Gina, has relatives who reside in Smyrna. Through the years, she and her brother, Levi, 16, had visited the area. The Wilsons now live on a farm, and it is Shelby’s pleasure to take care of the animals and help with hay baling and hauling.
The family chose Webb for the two to complete their high school education. Having lived abroad, Shelby said the cultural diversity at Webb was appealing. The school’s emphasis on honesty and character also meshed with her background being part of a military family.
She began modeling after signing with DAN Talent Group of Brentwood in August 2012. Shelby did not consider herself a “model type,” but at the urging of her mother, she submitted a photo and application. DAN responded and requested an audition.
“When you sign a contract, it is mandatory to attend modeling and acting workshops,” she said. The classes help develop presentation, movement, and the all-important runway walk.
Her first runway job was “A Foreign Fashion Affair” for Manuel Exclusive Clothier in Nashville. “It was a lot of fun. I didn’t realize how intense it was.” Shelby said her shoe came off as she took the first step, but she kept her poise and no one knew.
Other assignments followed including work with Designs by Max, Jeff Garner, LollyDee and Jose Braulio. She’s also done commercial print and mannequin modeling.
After less than a year of modeling, Shelby appeared in The New York Times Fashions and Styles section as part of Adrian Morales’ “Street Style: Tie Dye” on Oct. 7, 2013. “I still can’t believe that’s me doing what I love,” she said.
Part of her work has been at charitable events, something she wants to continue as a way of helping others. It was at one of those events a fashion industry executive had high praise for her walk and told Shelby’s agent. The new model has taught a runway class because of that characteristic. She also practices her own movements and facial expressions up to two hours a day.
It is common for Shelby to get a text as late as 9 p.m. for an assignment for the next morning. Because photographs and specifics about her are listed on her comp cards that are circulated in the industry, potential employers can determine if she fits the audition criteria. “I always have to keep my model bag packed,” she said.
  Shelby recently auditioned for a music video in Nashville after school, and is waiting on the outcome. Sometimes, she says, getting a job does not depend on how well she auditioned. There are other factors when multiple models are being cast for a shoot and need to complement each other.
Shelby and other models, many who are called to the same auditions, have become friends. They understand the work, long hours for shoots, misconceptions about models and getting high school homework completed on time. Her family also has been very supportive even if her brother still jokes and “tells me this isn’t a real job.”
There are agencies in New York and Los Angeles that would sign her full-time now, but prefer she finish high school.
That fits in with Shelby’s plans. She wants to graduate from Webb and earn a college degree.