For especially millennials, seeing Kristin Cavallari and Stephen Colletti brings a strong sense of nostalgia from their days starring on the hit 2004 MTV reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, which followed a group of high schoolers weaving their way through young love & friendship in the California beachfront town. These days, however, you will find two very grown-up entrepreneurs that have paved their own unique paths in business, understanding that Laguna Beach gave them their start but they alone have built what will ultimately become their legacies.
Now nearly 18 years since they were first introduced to the world on reality television, Cavallari and Colletti are now the hosts of their own Laguna Beach rewatch podcast with Dear Media called Back to the Beach. On the weekly show, which surpassed one million downloads in its first week alone, they dive into the parts that never made it to air, reflect on their adolescent decisions and speak openly about when the “real” in reality television was sometimes blurred.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile,” Colletti, 36, tells me of the podcast on Zoom. “We originally spoke about it briefly when she came to Laguna way back in 2020. It’s funny, I just kind of threw it out there and Kristin was like That could be kind of fun. I would consider that.”
These two years later, Cavallari, 35, tells me about the idea coming into fruition by saying, “Everything just kind of aligned. Really, my schedule allowed for it and I knew that if I was going to do anything in this space, I would of course want to do it with Stephen. Honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as far as my career goes because it has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done. It has been really fun, it has been eye-opening, it has been therapeutic. It has truly been all the things and I’m just happy Stephen came to me about it.”
These longtime friends go on to tell me that knowing this would only be 40-episode podcast with a foreseen end-date made this project something they both could confidently take on. So during their brainstorming process together in creating this episodic format, was there anything they both wanted to make sure this podcast would not become?
Cavallari responds, “That’s a good question. Time was really important to me because I think a podcast longer than 45 minutes, you lose people. We both wanted to really pull back the curtain and give viewers what we think they really do want to hear. We’re not sugar-coating anything. We truly are saying exactly what happened. We’re not holding back, which I think if we were going to do it, that’s the only way to do it.”
Colletti adds, “We really didn’t want it to go too long. We don’t want to be talking for an hour and a half. We want to hopefully kind of like get in with it, be bold with it and get out, you know? Keep it for an audience to digest on their commute or something and have a lot of fun with it.”
As Cavallari looks back on her time with Laguna Beach, she sees the show now as “so ‘PG’ and so watered down” but remembers back then, it was seen as semi-controversial. Colletti also mentions that while he has been rewatching these MTV episodes, he has realized that there is so much that producers and editors got away with in constructing these so-called reality storylines.
With reality television continuing to be such a staple in entertainment and pop culture, I wondered if these Laguna Beach alums make time at all to watch this latest batch of popular shows.
“I can’t watch reality TV anymore,” Cavallari admits. “I shouldn’t say that – I used to watch The [Real] Housewives a lot and I feel like every time I would, I would be like That’s fake, I know what they did there. I would pick it apart, so in a way, it kind of ruins it for you.”
Colletti continues saying, “For my experience of working on Laguna Beach, reality TV after that, I was not interested in whatsoever. I feel like I could really point out immediately – I was like That’s so fake. That’s all edited together. Clearly, that person wasn’t talking on-camera, so who knows when that was taken from. All the tricks we had already been through.”
Over the years, Cavallari and Colletti have been focused on their individual passion projects. Now a mother of three, Cavallari has built her own fashion and lifestyle empire, including her jewelry and skincare line called Uncommon James. Colletti has been best known lately for acting work on scripted television series like One Tree Hill and Everyone Is Doing Great. So, I asked these two creative professionals where they would say their energies go most in 2022.
“Mine is definitely on Uncommon James,” Cavallari continues. “That’s my fourth baby. Most of my time and energy goes there, and I love that. I have another cookbook coming out in April 2023 which is called Truly Simple – really just quick and easy meals. That’s kind of it. The podcast, I feel like I’m finally at a good place where I have a really good work/life balance and I’m just trying to keep it that way and not put too much on my plate.”
Colletti adds, “We still have some work to do on this podcast. We’re working on season two of Everyone Is Doing Great right now, so hopefully we’ll have more news with that soon here. Still same-old, it’s both sides of the camera for me these days. I enjoy writing and acting a lot, producing. I even directed one episode of the first season of Everyone Is Doing Great and we’ll look to do a little more in season two.”
Being entrepreneurs, I wondered how they would describe their journeys of being taken seriously in the world today for their business ways and not just forever seen as those very recognizable reality stars.
Cavallari starts with, “I’d say definitely not an easy path for sure. I mean, I feel like coming from the reality world and especially before it really turned into what it has, we had to prove ourselves more. It has taken awhile and I don’t think until I launched Uncommon James, people really looked at me in that light, even though I had previous shoe lines and another jewelry line and stuff like that. It wasn’t until I launched my own [company]. I’m happy that we’re here and we’ve made it this far.”
Colletti follows up with, “Things came very easily I think early on. I’m glad that there are some years in my twenties there where it took a lot of growth, a lot of reflecting, figuring out exactly what I want to do. Kind of being a little bit goal-centered on what I want to do in this industry. It has taken a lot of work and a lot of grinding to get to where we’re at now and I’m very grateful and thankful that I still have an opportunity to work in this industry in some capacity. It has been a zig-zaggy long road but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re very happy with where we’re at now.”
As I began to wrap up our conversation together, I left them with asking what message might they have for their life-long fans and supporters, people who continue to champion their ever-evolving business careers.
Colletti reveals, “It’s through some people that have been fans of the show that I’ve been able to find a peace with the show. Whether somebody comes up to me on the street and says I watched your show back in the day and it reminded me a lot of my relationship and stuff that I was going through. That was an unexpected experience that has given me comfort in it. I’m very appreciative of that and grateful to them, so I’d just say thank you.”
Cavallari concludes our conversation with, “I would just say thank you so much because honestly, what we get to do is extremely cool – like we live very fun, cool lives and it’s truly because of the fans from Laguna Beach. I never take that for granted. I realize that show and those fans are what has gotten me to where I am today. Their support is everything. It allows me to live out a dream and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”