English was born in Fargo, North Dakota, to Pam Flesness and Tony English. She is of German, Norwegian, and Danish descent.
Before appearing on America's Next Top Model, English worked as a photographer, and also was an actor in the sketch comedy group known as The 4th Option, which performed weekly in the old East Gate Lounge in Moorhead, Minnesota. On December 13, 2004, she sang with the Willy Waldman Project. She was a listed model with the Academie Agencie in Fargo, North Dakota, in 2001. She entered the Millie Lewis Actors Models and Talent Competition in 2002 and was placed with Mega Models in Miami, Florida, for the summer of 2003.
English was the eleventh finalist selected for Cycle 7. From the start, she was noted for her similarity to Rebecca Romijn and Karolína Kurková, and in the early stages of the cycle her personality was considered fun and outgoing. On the show, English received five Covergirl of the week awards, three first call-outs and won one challenge.
As winner of the acting challenge, English had an opportunity to guest-star in an episode of the CW series One Tree Hill (which aired immediately following Top Model at the time), appearing in multiple scenes. In the same episode, English was criticized for not being able to deliver a commercial properly, however she survived her first ever bottom two appearance over Jaeda Young for showing more potential.
Later, in Episode 11, English was criticized for making an impulsive, crude joke to fashion photographer and ANTM judge Nigel Barker during the bullfighting photo shoot in Barcelona, asking him a stupid question "Did you just remove that (referring to a large stick Barker was holding) from your ass from the last panel?". English stated that Barker "actually joked back", and was never really mad, yet during panel she apologized to Barker and received the third call-out that week. The next week, English was placed in the bottom two again for her doubtful strength to work in tough circumstances (i.e. photo shoot in cold water). Once more, she survived her second bottom two appearance over the remaining twin Amanda Babin.
English was shown speaking to her boyfriend on the phone in one episode, and then passionately kissing one of the male models the girls worked with in the next, when the girls were overseas in Barcelona. When interviewed about it, English said that up to that point, she and her boyfriend were seeing other people, and that they had since gotten back together.
As the competition progressed, the judges began to express concern that, due to her behavior, English might be too unpredictable to be awarded the Top Model prize. Ultimately though, she was crowned the winner over runner-up Melrose Bickerstaff. The judges said they felt she had the much sought-after "X-Factor"—an intangible quality that made her a standout.
In early 2008, English was voted as one of the most memorable contestants on Top Model by AOL Entertainment Canada, which said she was the first contestant everybody knew would win from the first episode.
She appeared on the weekly "My Life as a CoverGirl" segments on The CW. In 2007 she was featured in an ad for CoverGirl Eyewear alongside cycle 6 winner Danielle Evans. She returned to ANTM for the finale of the eighth cycle to give advice to the final three contestants and to open the finale's runway show.
English was featured on the front page of Seventeen, Social Life, Healthy Living, Psoriasis Advance, and Cover magazines with Top Model alumnae Naima Mora and Danielle Evans. She has modeled for Wedding Style, JC Penney Bisou Bisou, Stephenson Denim, Johnny P. Shoes, American Salon, Matrix Professional Colors in Cosmopolitan and the "Heart On My Sleeves" clothing campaign by Aubrey O'Day of Danity Kane and Christian Siriano Fall 09. She was in the Winter 2007 issue of Knit.1 Magazine, the February 2007 issue of Seventeen, the March 2007 issue of In Touch, the Spring 2007 issue of Social Life, the April 2007 issue of Cover, on the cover of "Inked Magazine" for Fall 2007, Loops&Pluto, Short Hair Magazine the cover of Runway Magazine, ads for Melissa Latkins t-shirts, Tasola Beauty & Beyond, and has been featured on ivillage.com. She also shot a cover of Allure, and has done some charity print work for the NOH8 Campaign.
In 2013 she became the face of Ray Ban sunglasses.
Her runway credits include J.C. Penney, Carlos Campos, Renee Larc, Jordi Scott, Snoopy in Fashion, GM Style Auto Show, Honduras Fashion Week, L'Oréal Fashion Week in Toronto, In Style's 2009's New Year's Eve lingerie show at the Estate, where she was the guest of honor New York Fashion Week, Richie Rich F/W 09 "Blondes have more fun" Show in Mercedes Benz Fall Fashions 09. She also opened Los Angeles Fashion Week wearing Yotam Soloman, walked in A*Muse Fall/Winter 2010, and Christian Siriano 2010 line in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 10.
She has also been featured on Mystyle.com and Blastmagazine.com.
English had a cameo appearance on One Tree Hill as a prize for winning the acting challenge on ANTM. She also appeared in a small role on Gossip Girl.
She co-hosted MTV's Scarred and the Pretty Wicked reality show on Oxygen.
She has appeared several times on the Tyra Banks Show and has been featured in the advertising campaign for ANTM on Oxygen.
She appears in the 2012 commercial for Stelara (Ustekinumab), a plaque psoriasis treatment.
English has taken part in the Seventh Annual World Poker Invitational at the Commerce Casino in 2009. She has also hosted several parties and will host the Capital Fashion Awards in Sacramento together with Jonathan Waud, Naima Mora and Merlin Castell.
English is featured on Brad Walsh's album "Human Nature" in the song called Boy/Girl and is working on music with Better than Ezra. English is a drummer, and performs with Celebrity DJ Lindsay Luv. Performing a powerful girl drum and DJ duo they call LUVnENGLISH. English also drums with the New York-based DJ Zeke Thomas. They even made a short video of them working together. English sings, plays guitar, drums and said "I would have been a rockstar first but being a model paid the bills faster."
She is a spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation, spreading awareness about psoriasis and encouraging others to seek treatment. English says she felt "cursed" with psoriasis when she was young because of the taunts of classmates. Today, her "curse" is her cause. "Psoriasis awareness is very important to me. I want others with the disease to know they are not alone. I want to inspire them to live their dreams," she said.
As such she opened the walk for Awareness on January 13, 2008 in San Diego and was featured on the cover for Allure. She has also held a congressional briefing on Psoriasis on June 11, 2007. She has taken part in the walk for awareness multiple times since. She is also featured in the Canadian Psoriasis Education website.
English has also taken part in a video against seal hunting. She also attended the Power of Paws opening, an association which promotes animals as part of health programs and promoted Project Cuddle.
She has also taken part in the NOH8 Campaign.
During the acting challenge in Cycle 7, English mentioned, in an emotional outburst during the acting challenge, that she knew about stress and had attempted suicide earlier in life because of it.
According to Instagram, English has been dating American rock musician Ilan Rubin since early 2015.