“Watching the show back was difficult for me because of how it happened. The producer called me and said, ‘You’re not gonna like what you see next week,’” Bunney, 37, exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting her new book, Don’t Tell Me What to Do: The Secret Guide to Unlocking Your Power, Potential, and Purpose. “And I didn’t know what that meant, because I wasn’t aware of really what was going on from the production, the editing [side].”
The former reality star, who now goes by her married name Jennifer Dunphy, recalled being painted as the “boyfriend stealer” on season 2 of the MTV show. During one of the 2007 episodes, Bunney allegedly hooked up with high school friend Lauren Conrad’s ex-boyfriend Brody Jenner, which she says was fabricated.
“I watched it back with everyone else in the nation when it aired. And I could not believe my eyes,” Bunney told Us. “There were scenes of me leaving places without me actually leaving, they would just show a random car driving and then put my voice behind it as if I were leaving with certain people to make it look like I was doing things that I wasn’t doing.”
The University of Southern California alum — who apologized to Conrad, 37, on the show for the Jenner, 39, drama — claimed to Us that she was never given the “opportunity to address” the alleged scandal in real time.
“It was really traumatizing in the way that it played out because it made me look like a nefarious actor. It made me look like a bad character,” Bunney explained, insisting that she and Jenner “weren’t in cahoots” about the dramatic story line. “I [was] a bad character — I was not a loyal friend. In that moment, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. I need to stop this.’ But it had aired. And my power was taken again.”
The former MTV personality, who is now the mother of two sons Holden, 3, and Shepley, 2, noted that she was a scapegoat because she had a minor role.
“I was really in the perfect spot because I was someone that could easily be removed from the scene that there was no real repercussions from trashing,” she said of the editing process. “I really became very dispensable to, I think everybody, which was not great for me, but that’s sort of the role that I ended up playing.”
Bunney further detailed her role on the show in her book, writing, “I wasn’t shown on screen enough to make into a likeable ‘character,’ but I was aired enough to be made into whatever they wanted me to be. Not popular enough to have a voice or a storyline, but around enough to manipulate into whatever served their purpose at the time. The wing-girl, the boyfriend-stealer, the clueless friend. Whatever worked, right? Not a big deal, right? Until it was.”
The chief population health officer confessed to Us that the onscreen story lines “absolutely changed” her relationships with the cast. “By the time that [Brody] said, ‘Hey, this never happened,’ it was pretty far down the road. The damage had already been done,” she explained.
The University of California, Berkeley, alum, however, said that she recently caught up with “most of the cast” in March to do a podcast taping. “I hadn’t seen them in so long … but everyone was lovely,” she revealed.
Conrad, for her part, wasn’t at the reunion. “I bump into her on occasion and it’s lovely,” Bunney told Us of her dynamic with the LC Lauren Conrad designer. “She’s so friendly and she’s so nice. We’re very friendly.”
Bunney, meanwhile, is focused on speaking her truth and empowering others to do the same thanks to her new memoir.
“The book is really meant to be a journey inside of yourself and to ask yourself questions that maybe you haven’t had time to think about or that you haven’t really wanted to grapple with, because they’re hard questions,” she told Us. “And the book really challenges you to get to that next level, to get to know yourself on a really deep level. It invites you to confront your challenges. It invites you to confront your biases, and through that really bring out the best parts of yourself so that you can move forward.”
Don’t Tell Me What to Do: The Secret Guide to Unlocking Your Power, Potential, and Purpose is available on bookstands now — and online.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi