Though I fancy myself an intellectual and at times a purveyor of literary culture (pause for effect), The Hills has emerged in my life as one of my now not so secret guilty pleasures. It started slowly, clicking the remote, landing on MTV and getting sucked in by a twenty-something La La Land-based soap opera, slickly edited with my favorite top 40 music. The dramatic crescendo between Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt proved almost too salacious to resist. One day I spied a blonde blue-eyed girl, who epitomized the California sunshine, arguing with Spencer. It was none other than Stephanie Pratt, Spencer's little sis.
As the storyline on The Hills continued to unfold, Stephanie Pratt's life began to weave itself throughout the lives of the rest of the cast. With Lauren Conrad off the show and Heidi Montag Pratt permanently on the outs, Stephanie Pratt, Audrina Patridge, Lauren Bosworth and resident bad girl Kristin Cavallari have entered into the main fold.
Up until my conversation with Stephanie Pratt, all that I knew about her was based on some scattered episodes of The Hills and some not so subtle headlines regarding Bulimia and DUIs. While preparing to speak with Stephanie I did some last minute research and found her to be heavily involved with various animal-related charities which intrigued me.
Of course, we discussed some of the basics: Just how real are the lives that are portrayed on The Hills? How does Stephanie really feel about Spencer and Heidi? Is Kristin Cavallari a friend or a nemesis to her fellow castmates? And how does the rest of the cast feel about Lauren Conrad's departure before this final season of The Hills? Most notably, we talked about what Stephanie believes is the reason behind some of her past public problems involving alcohol and body image, and the important step she has taken to remake her life.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): I was reading earlier that you had done press with some British media outlets. I had no idea that The Hills was broadcast in other countries. How many countries get the show?
Stephanie Pratt: I don't know, but I know it plays in Brazil, The UK and Australia. There are lots of fans in those countries. Oh, and in Canada it's huge.
PR.com: Did the cast ever do an international promotional tour?
Stephanie Pratt: No. We've gone to Canada before because they do the after-show, but that's it. I wish we did tours!
PR.com: Were you caught off guard when MTV revealed that this would be the final season of The Hills?
Stephanie Pratt: No. I think we all pretty much knew that it would be the last season, the fact that it's the sixth season, crazy! We all pretty much knew it going into it, and we weren't surprised when they announced it.
PR.com: What are your thoughts about The Hills ending?
Stephanie Pratt: When we get asked how it feels that it's the end, it doesn't really feel like it's the end, because we just starting filming, like, two months ago. But it's really sad. I'm such a people person, and to have a job where you've got, like, forty cast and crew and people making jokes and having crew meals, it's just a fun job. That's definitely going to be the saddest part, not having the crew around. I'm excited for what's going to happen next, and to spend more time on my handbag line and on another collaboration.
PR.com: Are you still in school?
Stephanie Pratt: I'm not at FDIM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) anymore. I stopped FDIM last year. [The handbag line] is coming out in Fall, 2010. Every season is going to be a different story, and since studs are going to still be really big in the Fall I designed this collection with a lot of studs. And they all have the long strap option, because I love purses that have that. I just saw the samples for the first time two weeks ago, and then on Monday I made the last modifications on a few of them. Now they are getting fixed and then they are going to be done. It's so insane!
PR.com: Many times when celebrities do lines somebody just shows them the work and they approve it. Since you actually went to school for this, how hands on were you in developing this handbag line?
Stephanie Pratt: Really hands on. About two years ago I bought software for Adobe Illustrator where I could design, because I'm horrible at free-draw. I was never good at it, and that was kind of my biggest fear. I had all these ideas in my head, but I can't draw for the life of me. "How am I going to get them on paper?" I researched and researched, and found some software, it's called Amherst Library. I took a lot of Illustrator classes at FDIM, so I designed all of the bags on Adobe Illustrator and then printed them out and faxed them to the factories.
PR.com: Speaking of school, you say that is where you met Lauren Conrad. Is that how you got on The Hills, or was it through your brother, Spencer?
Stephanie Hills: It was both. I was at FDIM before Lauren came to FDIM. And randomly, everyone thinks it was set up, but no one knew who I was because I was never on the show and my brother had started dating Heidi, and then on the call sheet they saw my last name and asked me if I was related to Spencer, [because] Lauren was in that class randomly. I was like, "Yeah, I am." Obviously, I knew who Lauren was, and then they asked me to be on the show. It all happened by chance. If they never asked me if I was related to Spencer, and if I wasn't in that class that Lauren walked into I probably never would have gotten on the show.
PR.com: Because they were shooting Lauren going to school.
Stephanie Pratt: Yep, and I was already there and it was the first day of class. It was the most random thing ever.
PR.com: Are you guys playing fictional versions of yourselves on The Hills, and is the show scripted?
Stephanie Pratt: It's not scripted. We've never had a script or anything like that. It really just documents our lives. We tell them what we are doing and they'll be like, "Oh, can we follow you there?" And then everyone is like, "Oh, you all know what your scene is about." Yeah, if we are at a club and someone is making out or someone is getting in a fight then we know we are going to have lunch the next day and talk about it. It just makes sense.
PR.com: But it's not fictionalized, it is actually your real life?
Stephanie Pratt: Yes. It's just edited. So it might look different than how we really are.
PR.com: What is the current state of your relationship with your brother Spencer? Do you speak?
Stephanie Pratt: No, we don't speak. We haven't spoken since late September. Everyone thinks it's very crazy that we don't talk, but we are just like any normal brother and sister. We get along, and then we don't get along. We just go through phases. We've done this many times so it's not as crazy as everyone thinks it is.
PR.com: Do you speak to Heidi?
Stephanie Pratt: No, I don't talk to her either.
PR.com: Did you ever have a relationship with Heidi?
Stephanie Pratt: Yeah, I was good friends with her before they got married. And then Spencer and I are going through this phase. She is obviously his wife, so they are a team, but they are doing really well.
PR.com: What are your thoughts on Heidi's extensive plastic surgery?
Stephanie Pratt: I think she is beautiful anyway, with surgery or without surgery and that's the extent of it.
PR.com: How has the vibe of the show changed since Kristin Cavallari replaced Lauren Conrad?
Stephanie Pratt: We're not all as good friends. It sucks not having Lauren there because we all really love Lauren. Now they put on a "frenemy," so we're all just more on our toes.
PR.com: They put Kristin on The Hills knowing that nobody really cares for her too much? Is that the situation?
Stephanie Pratt: Yeah. They brought her on to shake things up.
PR.com: Is that just because of the nature of everyone's relationship with Kristin, or do the producers tell her to do certain things to stir up drama?
Stephanie Pratt: That is just her nature. I don't think they told her to do anything. I think she went after Audrina's ex-boyfriend because that's the person that she is.
PR.com: How are you doing these days, as far as your body issues?
Stephanie Pratt: I am doing amazing. This is probably the best time of my life. I became more informed about what I was eating, and so I'm a better consumer at markets. And I just stopped putting so much pressure on myself. I got healthier.
PR.com: Are you exercising as well, and do you have any fitness tips to share?
Stephanie Pratt: I'm definitely more active. I'll always try to take the stairs instead of the elevator in my apartment, and I walk my dog. I love going swimming now that it's getting warmer. It's great exercise. And it's just the small things; I used to put tons of half and half into my coffee. I didn't know half and half turned into butter. So I use nonfat milk, and then non-fat yogurt with no-carb granola for breakfast. For snacks, instead of M&Ms I'll sauté spinach with olive oil and lemon or have a banana. I try to find a good combination between being active and just making healthier choices. When I'm craving ice cream I'll have one of the 120 calorie drumsticks. I just try not to get out of hand.
PR.com: There was a point when you were going down a bad path.
Stephanie Pratt: Yeah, absolutely.
PR.com: What made you want to turn your life around and get involved in more positive things?
Stephanie Pratt: I was really lucky that I could get therapy for myself. Even though in my life I don't have one complaint right now, I feel really great and everything is going great, I still go every week. I learned that my self-esteem comes from doing work. I was very enabled growing up; I never had to lift a finger. I was very blessed and so I never felt good about myself because I wasn't doing anything. Now, the busier I am and the more I work, and the more I try to do for animals, that's where I get my self-esteem. I feel good after working a hard day. Also, when I am disappointed I have a narcissistic tendency to say, "Ok, what is it about me? Why didn't I get this job? Why doesn't this guy want to be with me?" I'm just realizing that it's not necessarily about me and it's about the other person, possibly, or it's about a situation or a circumstance. I'm taking the "me" out of a lot of equations. I'm not blaming myself for everything. Normally, I would love to blame myself growing up. And I'm not dependent on other people clapping for me and saying, "Great job! You're doing great!" I'm not needing people's approval as much as I did growing up. Every day it's like exercise for the brain, to be aware that if something doesn't go right to not subconsciously take it out on myself.
PR.com: Many times we all think we're so unique, but as human beings we are actually all very much the same as far as the things that trip us up, like narcissism, ego or insecurity. Sometimes it's just not knowing where to find that source of positive energy or self-esteem.
Stephanie Pratt: I never knew how to get self-esteem. I was like, "Oh, I just need to be skinny and pretty." And then I still felt really empty inside.
PR.com: Did growing up in the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles have a negative effect on you?
Stephanie Pratt: I don't think so. I've been obsessed with fashion my whole life, so no matter where I grew up I would have magazine cut-outs of all of these supermodels all over my walls, because I loved supermodels and the whole fashion world. That is really what [did it]. I started to compare myself to that. It wasn't necessarily my surroundings, it was just what I loved and what I thought was perfection.
PR.com: Are you dating anyone?
Stephanie Pratt: I'm dating a couple of guys right now and one of them you'll see on the show.
PR.com: A couple guys, sounds good (laughs)!
Stephanie Pratt: (Laughs.) Well, my main thing is I haven't had a boyfriend in almost two years. I would rather be single than settle.
PR.com: You're twenty-four. You don't even need to think about the word "settle."
Stephanie Pratt: But even settling with a half-ass boyfriend. I'm just not into it.
PR.com: This is the time to have fun. I believe that no one should get married or have kids until they're at least thirty years old.
Stephanie Pratt: I agree. I have a sister who is thirty-four and she got married when she was thirty.
PR.com: Your twenties are for getting to know yourself.
Stephanie Pratt: Totally. I am a completely different person than I was two years ago.
PR.com: I know you are involved with PETA and with Much Love Animal Rescue. What have you done recently regarding these animal charities?
Stephanie Pratt: I have always loved animals since I was a little kid. I have had every animal you could possibly have as a pet, except for snakes because they eat rats and I would have pet rats. I actually chose my publicist because they had dogs in their office. Animals can't speak for themselves, and all they want is love. It kills me when I hear these stories of abuse. Right now I am working with these charities to spread awareness to adopt. People are led to believe that you can't find a pure breed Golden Retriever at a shelter, but if you go to petfinder.com and other websites you can absolutely find any pure breed animal you are looking for at a shelter. If you start adopting all these animals that are being euthanized every year, then that would help end the need for puppy mills, which are just horrible. I hope when I leave this planet puppy mills are gone. The other thing is animal testing. I am working really hard with PETA to spread awareness about how easy it is to look at the back of your products to see if they test on animals, and if they do, don't buy it.
PR.com: Would you ever pose [nude] for an "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" promotion?
Stephanie Pratt: Well, I actually have something with PETA coming out on Wednesday, so feel free to ask me any questions after that happens. I can't talk about it now. (Stephanie's nude PETA ad to promote no animal testing is currently on display at PETA.org and on your iPhone shopping application.)
PR.com: Are you a vegetarian?
Stephanie Pratt: No, it really kills me. I was actually talking about this at dinner last night with people. I do want to make it clear that I love fashion and I love wearing faux fur, but I will never wear real fur. Any fur I'm wearing, it's fake.
PR.com: What's your favorite social networking site?
Stephanie Pratt: Twitter! I love Twitter. Facebook has a friend capacity. You can't have that many friends on Facebook, and with Twitter, it's just really fun to see what your friends are doing all the time. And it's an easier application.
PR.com: Do you interact with Hills fans on Twitter?
Stephanie Pratt: Oh yeah. That's the really fun part. It's really cool to talk to the fans. I actually just got this insane birthday present from a fan on Twitter, and I got to talk to her today and thank her so much for it.
PR.com: Can you sum up this last season of The Hills?
Stephanie Pratt: It's very raw and surprising. All of us are going to show a different side that has never been shown before.
"The Hills" airs Tuesdays 10PM/9c on MTV.