By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
DETROIT — Bikini-clad Audrina Patridge was soaking up some sun by a pool in Los Angeles a few years ago when a reality TV producer spotted the aspiring model-actress. It was a chance meeting that ultimately led to a six-season run on the smash MTV series “The Hills.”
These days, Patridge has traded her MTV gig in Hollywood for a web series in Detroit. Yet the 26-year-old beauty continues to attract attention – and maybe an occasional fan melee.
Last week at an airport in Mexico, she was overrun by fans, and earlier this week in Detroit, Patridge had an encounter with a group of prom-going teens at a bakery in the city’s Greektown section.
“This one girl in particular came up to me and she started hyperventilating. . Just seeing that, it’s like, `Wow,’” Patridge said. “A lot of people, they think they already know me.”
See Audrina’s Crush:
That may because her public profile hasn’t lessened all that much since “The Hills” wrapped last summer.
Patridge quickly signed up for ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” hoofing her way to a respectable seventh-place finish on the hit show last fall. Patridge currently can be seen in “Audrina,’” her reality series on VH1, and as the face of Bongo clothing, which put a building-sized billboard of Patridge along a main L.A. thoroughfare a few months ago.
Recently, Patridge has been in Detroit filming scenes for a web series called “Dream Maker,” which will air on YOBI.tv, a site that hosts online talent competitions. Winners in acting, singing, comedy and filmmaking contests have earned spots in “Dream Maker,” which stars Patridge as Tracy Jacobs, a Hollywood talent manager.
Patridge’s character is inspired by the economic downturn to start a new firm in Detroit to foster fresh talent and contribute to the rejuvenation of the hard-hit city.
“A few years ago, I never would have imagined that I would have had all of these opportunities that I’ve had,” Patridge told The Associated Press in between scenes. “It’s been so amazing. I’m very blessed. I’ve been very busy with work. My dreams are coming true.”
On set in a suite on the 28th floor of one of Detroit’s casino-hotels, Patridge patiently waits for writer-director K. Asher Levin to set up a shot that involves her looking into the camera and swinging her hair back and forth.
“It should be like Tawny… (pause). You know, from the Whitesnake video,” Levin says.
“Kitaen,” Patridge says, smiling.
“Tawny Kitaen. Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Levin says. “OK. Action on the Tawny stuff!”
Patridge and the rest of the cast and crew have been putting in 12- to 14-hour days, but the experience has “been amazing,” she said.
Patridge’s co-stars sing her praises, saying she insists on being treated like just another cast member despite her fame. Lisa Mason Lee, who plays Jacobs’ receptionist on the show, describes Patridge as being “as sweet as pie” and “classy, charming, charismatic.”
Meanwhile, the first season of “Audrina,” which chronicles the namesake star’s interactions with her Orange County, Calif.-based mother, father and three younger siblings, soon will be coming to a close.
Patridge said it’s been an eye-opening experience, because after “The Hills” finished, she “kind of forgot how you have to re-live everything, sometimes through the editor’s point of view. It’s hard, for my family especially. But it’s been really fun.
“We’ll see if we get a second season. We don’t know yet.”
While that return to reality TV might still be in the cards, she’d also like to give scripted work a shot as well, having enjoyed her experiences both on “Dream Maker” and in the 2009 horror flick “Sorority Row.”
As for the longer-term future, “In five years, I’ll be 31. Gosh,” she said, smiling. “Hopefully, I’ll be married and starting a family, and I really would love to start my own line, whether it be a bikini line, or something that I’m passionate about, be creative with. I’d love to do another movie or more hosting jobs and traveling the world. I just live day by day and see what comes.”
That could very well include running into more fans at airports and bakeries.
“I love talking to people and hearing their stories,” she said. “I’m not the type to run from fans. I’ll take pictures and sign things and talk to them.”
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