After graduating from El Dorado High School in Placentia, Calif., Patridge, an aspiring model and actress, is approached by MTV producers of Laguna Beach spin-off, The Hills, starring good-girl Lauren Conrad. "The executive producer came up and started talking to me about a new show. He said it was kind of like Sex and the City and he really liked what I had going on," Patridge tells Sydney's MX newspaper. "They had me go in and meet the other directors and they all loved me. It just fell in my lap, but it was good timing. It was fate."
The Hills premieres with Conrad's roommate and BFF Heidi Montag introducing Conrad to Patridge – who happens to live in the same apartment complex as the girls. While working as a receptionist at Quixote Studios, where Conrad and fellow Teen Vogue intern Whitney Port occasionally visit for photo shoots, the show's stars become good friends.
After Montag begins dating Spencer Pratt (who trashes Conrad in the press and hits on Patridge behind Montag's back), Patridge becomes Conrad's closest confidant and roommate. In the third season premiere, Conrad confronts Montag. In the onscreen spat, Patridge sticks up for Conrad, calling Montag "brainwashed" by Pratt – who claims Conrad made a sex tape with her ex Jason Wahler.
The sugary-sweet Patridge, who now works as a receptionist for Epic Records, gives her on-again, off-again man, Justin Bobby Brescia – who she stopped seeing after he abandoned her in Vegas – a second shot at love. With his long greasy hair and bad manners, Justin becomes the beautiful bad boy of The Hills. After catching him kissing another girl at Opera in L.A, they call it quits. In 2008, they reunite, and Patridge claims the editing process is a bit unfair to Justin. "Whenever there's no cameras around, it's different," she says, adding that a mean Justin Bobby "makes better TV."
Patridge is befriended by Conrad's archrival Montag. "I feel bad for Heidi," Patridge tells PEOPLE. "Everyone talks so much s--- on her and I just try to stay away from all of that, it's not my business anymore." After the Internet buzzes that Patridge and Conrad are fighting because of her friendliness with Montag, Patridge clears the air on MySpace. "I am not ditching Lauren for Heidi," she writes. "It is none of my business with what is going on between them and I stay out of it!"
With the return of Conrad's fiercely loyal Laguna Beach pal Lauren "Lo" Bosworth, Patridge steadily slips out of L.C.'s focus. When Conrad and Lo decide to move in together, Patridge lives in the girls' guesthouse. In the third season finale, Conrad tells Audrina she wants things to go back to the way they were. "Everything was fine when it was just me and you," Patridge says. "When Lo's in the picture, you're just distant from me." In the end, Conrad leaves in tears.
Nude photos of Patridge surface online. "I took these photos years ago when I was just out of high school and beginning to model," Patridge, 22, says. "I was young and very trusting of others and I didn't know to protect myself." More popular than ever, the show's stars reunite for a May Rolling Stone cover, which calls The Hills "a maddeningly addictive TV show in which nothing ever really happens."
Patridge lands her first film role in Into the Blue 2, the sequel to the bikini-clad Jessica Alba movie. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Patridge, who shoots scenes in Hawaii in a green bikini, plays a "no-nonsense woman whose boyfriend caters to her every command." On May 17, with Conrad noticeably absent, Patridge celebrates her 23rd birthday at LAX Nightclub in Las Vegas.
Patridge appears on the cover of TV Guide with PEOPLE's Hottest Bachelor Mario Lopez as "The Bod Squad." "When I’m sitting in front of the TV, I lift 5-pound weights or do squats," Patridge says of staying in shape for her bikini. "And I wear heels when I vacuum because it works my calves and my butt."
The suspense comes to an end, as paparazzi catch Patridge exiting the home she shared with Conrad and Bosworth carrying boxes and personal items. "I just wanted my own place," Patridge tells Maxim of her decision to leave. "If anything, I feel like it will help out all our friendships." Of course, all of the drama is captured by MTV cameras for their hit show.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Splash News Online; Michael Tran/FilmMagic; Peter Kramer/Getty; Seth Browarnik/Wireimage; MTV; MTV; Courtesy of Rolling Stone; Will Binns/Pacific Coast News; Courtesy of TV Guide; Finalpixx