Kristin Cavallari is coming clean. The former reality star, now 27, opened up to Oprah: Where Are They Now? about her time as a teenager on MTV’s Laguna Beach, sharing less-than-positive memories from working on the show.
“Laguna Beach was… it was tough,” said Cavallari, who first appeared on the show about high school life in Orange County at the age of 17. “I felt very used and manipulated.”
Now a married mom of two, Cavallari was villainized in the first season of Laguna Beach. The businesswoman and designer was pitted against narrator and heroine Lauren Conrad, as they competed over high school dreamboat Stephen Colletti, the then-boyfriend of Cavallari, and longtime flirtatious bestie of Conrad, now 28.
“Basically my boyfriend at the time, the producers would have him go and take out Lauren Conrad, take her to dinner, bring her flowers, which never would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the show, for MTV,” Cavallari explained of Colletti, now a 28-year-old actor.
“Being 16, 17 in high school, not knowing really how to handle your emotions or even realizing what’s going on… I put up a wall,” Cavallari continued, explaining her sometimes harsh behavior on the show. “I put up a really tough exterior because I felt like they were really trying to take advantage of me. It was a really difficult time, and then when I saw it air, and saw the way that they represented me, I was really, really upset. I cried for hours and hours after I saw the first episode. It was hard, it was really hard.”
Conrad continued her career with MTV after Laguna Beach‘s 2006 wrap, going on to star in The Hills and translate her fame to a lifestyle empire. Despite her negative feelings about the network, Cavallari made appearances on The Hills, starring in the final two seasons of the show’s six-season run. Both Conrad and Cavallari’s fame is owed entirely to Laguna Beach, a gig they signed up for when they were just teens, after the success of the early 2000s Fox drama The O.C.
“I was a junior in high school and MTV showed up and did open casting for Laguna Beach,” Cavallari explained of the show’s beginnings. “You go and you grab this 20-page packet and then they would take your polaroid and from there they did on-camera interviews. They sort of narrowed it down to these eight people. We weren’t all a group of friends, but there was all some sort of a tie with all of us.”
She, Conrad, and Colletti were joined in the original cast by Lo Bosworth, Trey Phillips, Christina Schuller, Morgan Olsen, and Talan Torriero. Colletti, Conrad, Cavallari, and Torriero continued to star in the second season, as the focus was passed to the next group of high school seniors at Laguna Beach High School.
“We filmed a pilot, we had no idea what we were doing,” Cavallari continued. “We were just going along with whatever MTV was telling us to do. We were kids! We didn’t know. Then Laguna Beach literally turned into an overnight huge success and it was a really wild time in my life.”
“I still, to this day, think you should have to be 18 to do a reality show,” she added. “Only because of my experience.”