By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — Brittany Baldassari was an accidental model, going on a photo shoot for fun with some friends in college one day several years ago.
But that trip has led her down a career path that looks to be gaining speed, with a gig on a New England Sports Network show about food called “Wicked Bites” and a spot on MTV’s new reality dating show, “Are You the One?,” her second appearance on MTV.
She started on NESN last month, after finishing shooting “Are You the One?” in Hawaii. “Wicked Bites” showcases local food and athletes in restaurants and pubs around New England. Most recently, she did spots at Coliseum to the Cage in Derry and Playmakers Sports Bar and Grill in Waltham.
“Wicked Bites” is “a dream job,” said Baldassari, 25, a 2007 Methuen High graduate. It’s a platform for her personality and could be a step towards covering sports.
“Getting the job with NESN is huge because my future dream job is working for the NHL Network or SportsCenter,” she said. “I’m at an age now I hope it leads to other stuff.”
Brittany Baldi, a nickname from high school sports that she used to introduce herself recently on “Wicked Bites,” was hired for the show about three months ago, but put her start on hold for the MTV show.
“Are You the One?” debuted Tuesday and is a reality dating show that brought 20 people, 10 men and 10 women, together from around the country in Hawaii. The participants worked with psychiatrists and counselors to try to pinpoint who their best match is, Baldassari said, and they spent the rest of the time interacting with the others, whom they did not know or meet beforehand, on dates and in challenges to find out if anyone there is “the one.”
“We were there about 40 days,” she said. “To this day I’m upset we had to come back. We got back right before Thanksgiving.”
She couldn’t discuss much about the show, including whether she found “the one,” but said it was a key opportunity in her progression from modeling to television.
“All the different characters on the show helped me grow,” she said. “A take away for me and viewers is, I hope they get an idea of how other people are from around the country.”
As a junior at Suffolk University, Baldassari and a couple classmates, one a photographer and the other a model, went on a photo shoot on the North Shore for fun. She enjoyed the trip, liked the photos that came out of it and found she was good at modeling.
She posted some of the pictures on Facebook, which led to magazines contacting her, and then to jobs as a promotional model. She appeared in local bands’ music videos, and soon landed brief roles in movies like “TED,” “That’s My Boy,” and “Grown Ups 2.”
In November 2010, she was featured in an episode on MTV’s “Is She Really Going out with Him?,” and appeared in an episode of the Fox dating show “The Choice” in 2012.
She graduated from Suffolk in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. But with the TV and movie spots leading to bigger opportunities, the sociology and the modeling are taking a back seat.
“Mainly I’m a TV personality. They like me because I’m very high energy,” she said.
Freddie Baldassari, Brittany’s father, wasn’t on board with the career choice at first. “I was skeptical at the beginning because I wanted her to get her education. Going down the road she is going, very few kids make it. It’s like being a professional athlete. But I back her 100 percent. She’s done a lot in such a short period of time.”
And while she appears on TV and magazine covers, he still sees his small-town Methuen girl, he said. “She’s very down to earth. A lot of kids, it will go to their heads, but it hasn’t for her,” he said. “She’s maturing as a young lady. Interviewing athletes and being in the public eye hasn’t changed her.”
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