Paris Hilton Isn't the Dumb Blonde You Think You Know

CUL PS Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton. Randee St. Nicholas

"I'm not a dumb blonde. I was just very good at pretending to be one."

The Paris Hilton you think you know isn't the real Paris. "I'm not a dumb blonde. I was just very good at pretending to be one." She writes about this and more in Paris: The Memoir (Dey Street Books, March 14). "A lot of what I did with this character was just a trauma response to all the abuse that I went through as a teenager." Placed in the controversial Provo Canyon School, a mental health treatment center for girls, Paris writes candidly about the abuse she suffered. "When I was coming out of Provo, I definitely modeled my character on Marilyn Monroe." When you know this about Paris, you begin to understand so much about her. Now a new wife and mother—"I didn't even know what love was until I met this baby"—Paris, who says she always felt "judged" and "alone" as a young woman, is ready to share her story on her terms. "I've lived this crazy, amazing life, but there's also been so many hard times, and I just wanted to put it all out there because I'm proud of the woman that I am today and everything that I've been through. I'm a bada**."


Why did you decide now was a good time to write a memoir?

I've been on this whole journey of self discovery ever since my documentary, This is Paris (2020), and really taking back my voice and my narrative. I feel like, especially during the 2000s, my story was told by others. I was helpless against whatever the press chose to write about me. So it's important for me to tell my own story. And obviously, after reading it, it's like my life is a movie. So many things I've been through. I think it's an important story for people to read because it's a story I wish I had read when I was a teenager, because I probably wouldn't have felt so alone. And I think a lot of people can relate to a lot of the things that I've had to endure.

So much of the memoir is about how people, largely men, took advantage of you and your situation. Why was that important for you to share?

I just think it's so important now. For so long this has happened not only to myself, but to so many women. And being in this male-dominated business for so long and just seeing everything and having to go through so much, I really wanted to say my truth and my story, because the more that people speak up, the more people can stop this from happening. I think there's been so much change from so many brave women coming forward with so many difficult things to talk about publicly. People put shame on people and that's a big part of my book. People instilled shame in me where I felt like I couldn't even talk about it, because I was embarrassed and ashamed, when it's not me who should be ashamed. It's these people. And I want anyone reading this book who's been through the same things to not hold on to that shame, because it's something that eats you away and it makes you not feel good about yourself. You should never put something that someone's done to you on yourself; that's a big message for me, and the advice that I would give.

In the midst of all the judgment thrown your way, did you ever feel judged no matter what you did?

Or definitely, I've felt judged for most of my life. And it's been difficult because I've always been such a kind person with a big heart. A lot of people, they don't know my story and a lot of what I did with this character, [it] was just a trauma response to all the abuse that I went through as a teenager, being abused at these troubled teen industry—I don't even like to call them schools—but the places that I went when I was a teenager.

There was also the judgment of you as a woman and the decisions you made. People didn't understand the character you were playing in a lot of ways. I think your fans did, but to the outside world they just saw this dumb blonde girl, and put a lot of stereotypes on that.

It was really hard because a lot of people didn't understand that. I was playing a character. I'm not a dumb blonde. I was just very good at pretending to be one. And I think the 2000s were all about tearing people down and pitting women against each other and just inventing fake feuds. It was just such a toxic environment in that way. People didn't know the real me, so I could understand sometimes when people would maybe talk negative about this person who's playing into this blonde Barbie kind of airhead. And I can understand how some people would feel about someone like that, but on the inside that was never really me. And I loved what you said about how my fans and people who understand me knew all along and they get who I am and what type of person I am. That's all that really matters to me, and that's why I feel so lucky that I have such an incredible fan base. My little Hiltons are literally my little brothers and sisters. I wrote this book for them, because I wish that I always had a big sister to give me advice. I've lived just this crazy, amazing life, but there's also been so many hard times, and I just wanted to put it all out there because I'm proud of the woman that I am today and everything that I've been through. I'm a bada**.

I feel like the documentary was a moment to reintroduce yourself to people, to kind of show that you were in on all of it and very self-aware. But at the core of that support was your hard-core fans. Do you hear that from them?

All the time. I love my fans so much, and I'm so close with them. I do this literally for my fans. I love seeing them at my perfume signings, I can't wait for the book signings. I love growing together with all of them, people from all around the world, all different ages, everyone is just so kind and it just makes me feel so proud to have had an impact and to bring that sparkle and make people feel comfortable and seen. It makes me emotional because I love them so much and the words they've said to me have touched my life in ways few things have.

In the book you bring up parallels between you and Marilyn Monroe, and the impact she's had on you. What is it about her that means so much to you?

I've just always loved and looked up to her since I was a little girl. She's always been one of my idols. She's gorgeous. I loved the way she lived her life without apologies and she did what she wanted and really just broke molds during that time when she was alive and will be an icon forever. But under all that, she went through so much when you look at her life story. I researched a lot and so many things I felt were similar in our stories. I feel like she was like me. She kind of came up with the baby voice and this sexy kind of character to be like a mask, because she had been through some difficult times in life. I didn't know any of that story because in Hollywood, they only have shown the glamorous parts. But now that I've looked into her so much, I've just seen so many similarities and now I can see even why I feel even closer to her. I think when I was coming out of Provo, I definitely modeled my character on her, Marilyn Monroe was one of my big inspirations. I loved how she just went through life with a smile on her face and had this energy that everyone just loved about her.

Speaking of Provo, your podcast Trapped in Treatment is so raw in not only telling your story, but the impact of those kind of schools on many different people. Why was it important to you to share that story?

I'm so proud of Trapped in Treatment. I was actually just listening to the second season and it's just wow, so powerful and impactful to be able to have my platform for voices to be heard, that need to be heard, and the stories of what is happening behind closed doors in this multibillion-dollar industry. And this has been happening since the 1960s. There's been more change and impact in the past two years that I've been fighting for change than there has been over 60 years of people trying to do something about this. So it just makes me proud that I'm able to shine a light on such an important issue and so proud because of all of our work, we've now changed laws in eight states and now are taking it to a federal level with introducing our bill in D.C. in a few months so that it will be illegal in all 50 states for the abuse that myself and so many others went through.

Another part of your ever-expanding portfolio is Peacock's Paris in Love. Will the new season feature more about you being a new mother?

I just feel just over the moon. We are so in love with our baby boy, little Phoenix. He's so beautiful. I just melt when he looks into my eyes. He's just started smiling this week. He is the most precious...I didn't even know what love was until I met this baby. I want to just protect him and just stare at him every second. We're having so much fun, and I'm loving season two of Paris in Love because this one is just very "fly-on-the-wall," just watching everything. Season one was all about planning the wedding, so [this season is] more about becoming a mom, running my media company 11:11 Media, my second album and I'm about to go on the book tour. My business has never been so successful. I'm so grateful to my husband and to my whole team. I just feel like I'm on top of the world right now. And now to be a mom with all of that and people finally understanding me.

Your company fascinates me because of all people, you, as the original influencer, knows how to harness pop culture into a business. Why did you want to start 11:11 Media?

Well, I feel like I'm the blueprint and wrote the playbook for basically this whole new creator economy, all of this that's happening right now. I just wanted to build a media company where others could have their dreams come true. And that's another reason I wanted to name it 11:11, because it's about making a wish [when clock number repeat] and about being inspirational. And now we have a huge team on everything from every different vertical, from podcasting, to film, to television, to products, to the, licensing, basically we do everything. So I just really wanted to build a company where not only do they handle my business and my empire, but we can also help others brands, IP creators, [to] be able to do the same thing because we have the whole flywheel and basically the whole infrastructure for that to be possible. So now we're just working with so many different brands and new creators coming in and just doing really exciting, innovative and massive deals, from the metaverse to IRL.

Ultimately what do you hope people take from the book?

I hope that people will understand me even more than they do. And I hope that they laugh, they cry, that they are just excited that they don't want to put the book down.

Paris Hilton Isn’t the Dumb Blonde
“I'm not a dumb blonde. I was just very good at pretending to be one,” Paris Hilton tells Newsweek’s Parting Shot In a wide-ranging and raw conversation about her new book ‘Paris: The Memoir.’ RANDEE ST. NICHOLAS

Listen to H. Alan Scott on Newsweek's Parting Shot. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Twitter: @HAlanScott