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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

Clarissa Anderson, Milwaukee's connection to "Project Runway"

"Project Runway's" Milwaukee model shares her experience


Every week on the Bravo network, fans of fashion and drama tune into popular reality show "Project Runway." As supermodel and host Heidi Klum says "auf wiedersehen" to a designer each week, the models stand by wearing the designs with a chance to be auf'd as well.

Klum reminds the models each week that this is also a competition for them -- with a spread in Elle magazine as their prize. In this third season, Milwaukee native Clarissa Anderson has made it through to the final round.

Fashion Week has already passed, but Wednesday night part two of the "Project Runway" finale airs. Designer Michael Knight chose Anderson as his model for the last two challenges which has led to her walking the Bryant Park runway during Fashion Week. The 21-year-old Anderson says she loved it.

"I had so much fun. I'm just really thankful to Michael. I made it that far because of him," she said. "I got to go to Fashion Week, I got to go to the biggest venue, the biggest runway, the biggest tent (and) one of the biggest weeks for fashion."

Anderson's time on the "Runway" began after a casting call in New York, where she moved to get into the modeling business. Taping for the show began in May and lasted through June, plus Fashion Week. She said that the filming was time intensive, leaving little time to do anything else.

"I was able to do little things like showroom modeling," said Anderson. "I was so busy with the show that I wasn't really able to get other jobs through my agency because anything I did book I couldn't do because we were probably filming that day."

Filming required early mornings and late nights.

"We're talking like every other day, sometimes two days in a row, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., there all day. (For) the models, there's this room we called 'Solitary Confinement," said Anderson. "We get there and had to sit in this room. It was sometimes for one hour sometimes for two."

Anderson said the only time that she wasn't sitting with other models was when they were being fitted or in hair and makeup. With only the other models for company, Anderson said she made a few friends, but there was one model that she could live without.

"I made friends with some girls, but there was one girl in particular that means well, but she could be very annoying," said Anderson. "And spending 15 hours a day with her was sometimes fine, I got through it, but some days it was, 'Oh my god I can't sit in same room with her.'"

Anderson said the models were well-fed, but that that's where the perks stoped.

"Being a model, you're used to being paid a pretty decent amount of money for whatever job you're doing, but 'Project Runway' was not paid and that's something a lot of people don't know," she said. "We did not get anything; 13 hours a day, nothing."

She said the free meals helped her because food is expensive in New York, but she was struggling.

"Just doing ('Project Runway') and not being able to do other jobs while doing that was hard for me," said Anderson. "I had to beg parents for money because I simply had no income at all. They say, it's good exposure and everyone's going to see you; just think of all the jobs you'll get. I haven't gotten many jobs because of it -- like none."

But she said that the overall experience was worth it. However, she didn't really get to hobnob with Klum -- other than seeing her on the runway.

"The most we ever saw her, besides the runway, was backstage getting ready to do the runway show. She'd pretty much just say hi."

But she did get to experience the designers' mentor, Tim Gunn, who is such a fan favorite that his role in the show has grown from season to season.

"That guy is a trip. Love that guy. I've never met anyone like him. When they called him a human dictionary, that is correct," Anderson said. "And the thing that made me smile (was) getting to hear him saying 'carry on' or 'make it work' in person."

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Talkbacks

OMCreader | Oct. 26, 2006 at 12:13 a.m. (report)

neil said: I always liked clarissa. very pretty and a strong features. I like how open she was in her interview. I wonder if any of the other models got offers as a result of the show. They should be compensated, free food is not fair. This is a television show, they should be paid for their work. Not acceptable at all in my opinion, how much is the network and Heidi making off this? she is co-producer after all

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OMCreader | Oct. 25, 2006 at 1:37 p.m. (report)

Mina said: Michael had the ugliest clothes I've ever seen. Super Trendy, they'd be out of style in one season.

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OMCreader | Oct. 18, 2006 at 7:08 p.m. (report)

DT said: Go Michael.

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OMCreader | Oct. 17, 2006 at 8:29 p.m. (report)

Jano said: Great behind the scenes article from a Milwaukee native. I love the show and hope Michael and Clarissa win on Weds night.

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OMCreader | Oct. 17, 2006 at 8:06 a.m. (report)

Janet said: Wow. Never knew she was from Milwaukee. Just another reason to root for MICHAEL. Can't wait for Wednesday night. Thank you Onmilwaukee.com.

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