Story by Alyssa Nishek
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Audra Mari has always called the F/M area and lakes country home. However, for the past seven years, since her career took off in 2014, Mari has bounced between life in Miami and Los Angeles.
Mari moved to Miami at 20 years old, shortly after competing in the 2011 Miss Teen USA competition, where she represented North Dakota and received first runner-up.“I still remember packing up all my stuff in my family’s old suburban and my dad driving me cross-country!” she recalled of the experience.
In 2014 she was crowned Miss North Dakota USA, from which she went on to place first runner-up at Miss USA. Then, in 2016, Mari won Miss World America and represented the United States at Miss World. As Miss World America, she spent a year traveling internationally doing philanthropic-based work.
Fast forward to early 2020, and Mari found herself living in Los Angeles pursuing a career in modeling. She described the effects of the early pandemic on the city as a “mass exodus,” as businesses shut down and residents fled. April 1, 2020, marked the day Mari got rid of her apartment in Los Angeles, moved her belongings into storage and headed home.
“I think we all went back to what we know best and where we’re comfortable,” she said of her decision to move back home.
“I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family and Josh (Duhamel) being tucked away in the woods at the lakes, which was time I took away from this experience as a real blessing.”
Though she was entirely grateful to spend the summer in the lakes country, where she enjoyed quality time with her loved ones, Mari originally imagined her return home would be only until the end of summer. However, August came and the world had not returned to any state of normalcy, so she found an apartment in Fargo, North Dakota, and moved back to her roots.
“Coming back home to the lakes and Fargo area is what really grounds me. It takes me back to what matters.
“Josh and I have found it very important to take that time to kind of escape; to get back to nature, back to being healthy, back to fresh air.”
Since her return last summer, Mari began pursuing a business administration degree through North Dakota State University. She is also currently working on a show produced and directed by Click Content Studios, a division of Forum Communications Company, in Fargo, North Dakota. The show, titled "Backroads with Audra Mari," will be a video series exploring food, fun and adventure destinations throughout the Midwest.
Though she plans to eventually return to L.A. and continue commercial modeling, Mari feels strongly that she’ll always call this part of the country home.
Midwest Nest loves the culture from the upper midwest, and we are excited to share stories from around the area.
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