Who is Paris Hilton?
There are a lot of answers to that question. Paris Hilton is a celebrity. She’s the millionaire heiress to the Hilton Hotel empire. She’s a businesswoman, socialite, model, actress, singer, and reality TV star.
Those things are all true, but who is Paris Hilton, really?
Until recently, the world had no idea. To most of us, Paris Hilton was an internet influencer and celebrity face. But now, she’s ready to show the world who she truly is. And the truth is, Paris Hilton is a human being just like you and me.
In her new documentary, This Is Paris, Paris is finally sharing her experience with abuse at boarding school that has shaped most of her adult life. Paris Hilton isn’t historically associated with mental health and vulnerability, but for the first time, she’s peeling back the layers of her public façade to be vulnerable — And that’s a scary experience.
“It’s exhausting having to pretend to be this Barbie Doll who has no brain all day long, when in the back of my mind I know exactly what’s happening.” – Paris Hilton
I’m so excited to have Paris on The School of Greatness today. She is a fascinating person to talk to, and I’m so inspired by her bravery and willingness to share her story of trauma and ongoing healing with the world.
Those of you who have been here a while know that I told my own story of childhood trauma here on the show, and sharing that story publicly was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I know how challenging that kind of public vulnerability can be, so I genuinely admire Paris and her courage. Let’s get started.
Paris Hilton wears many hats. She’s the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels, and the heiress of the Hilton empire. She’s also a businesswoman in her own right. With over a dozen product lines, 50 boutiques worldwide, a resort hotel, and a $3 billion perfume line, she’s the definition of business success.
But for all her other success, Paris is probably best known as the original social media influencer. For much of her adult life, Paris has worn a carefully crafted public persona. She’s known as a “dumb blonde party girl,” and she’s played that character in a long list of reality TV shows, movies, and internet platforms. But Paris’ public persona is just that: a persona. It’s a character she’s played, but it’s not who she really is.
Before her days of stardom — before her modeling career, business success, and reality TV stardom — Paris Hilton attended boarding school. There, she was subjected to verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. When she finally escaped that situation, she felt the need to hide. So, she carefully crafted a mask. She hid behind the “dumb partying heiress” character for many years, all the while wishing she could show the world who she really is.
Now, she’s doing just that. The documentary This Is Paris is different from any other project Paris has been a part of. It’s raw, honest, and real. It gives audiences the opportunity to see Paris as she truly is. I know you’re going to want to check it out!
But make sure you listen to this episode first, because Paris and I are going deep. We’re talking about her childhood trauma and how it’s shaped the person Paris is today. We’re also talking about the future and what Paris wants her legacy to be. This interview is inspiring and powerful, friends. Let’s go!
Paris’ whole life changed one night when she was just 16 years old. She was forced from her home and taken to a boarding school in Utah.
“Traumatizing. I had no idea who these people were — Just these two big men coming into my room in the middle of the night and literally grabbing me and carrying me from my bed. … I thought that I was being kidnapped. It was like something from the movie Taken. It [was] terrifying.” – Paris Hilton
For years, Paris suffered from nightmares related to that experience. And to make matters worse, as I mentioned before, she was abused by the leaders at the school she attended. Paris struggled to cope with her circumstances, so she started visualizing the future she wanted to create for herself. She pictured herself living the life of a famous, successful, wealthy business owner, and as soon as she escaped school, she began creating that life for herself.
“The only thing that kept me going and not losing my sanity was just thinking about who I was going to become when I got out of there. And I think I just built kind of this Barbie doll, Disney princess, perfect life, just so I wouldn’t have to think about all the just horrible things that I went through. … It was like a distraction.” – Paris Hilton
That Barbie doll character served Paris for many years. She built her empire playing the picture-perfect party girl, but eventually, the mask started to feel heavy. She realized that she was struggling to connect with people and that some of her toxic relationships needed to be cut loose. Paris knew she had to step out from behind the mask of her public character and finally tell the truth. She told her story to the camera in This Is Paris. She worked through her past trauma and came out the other side feeling stronger than ever before.
“I think everything in life happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t be the strong woman I am today if I had not [gone] through those things.” – Paris Hilton
Since telling her story, Paris hasn’t had a nightmare. She’s in a healthy, happy relationship, and she’s spending her time and energy building businesses she’s proud of. Paris is proof that it is possible to overcome trauma and create a beautiful life for yourself.
Are you hiding behind a mask? What trauma have you experienced? Friend, I want to encourage you today. You can do the hard internal work you need to do to heal and move on with your life.
Paris has chosen to come out from behind her mask, but she still acknowledges the power of the type of marketing she invented: Influencer marketing. Paris began her rise in the media and business worlds before social media fully took off, but platforms like Instagram and now TikTok, have been an enormous part of how Paris has built and grown her businesses. She invented the game, and now she’s an expert player.
“I had no publicist. I had no stylist. I didn’t have any of the tools that people have today. … So that makes me just feel so proud to have really created a whole new basically genre of celebrity. And back when I started doing this, you know, being famous for [being] famous — There was no one who had done it before, and now it’s like a thing.” – Paris Hilton
Since she’s the original influencer, I was interested in asking Paris how she feels this kind of fame affects mental health on a broader scale. What advice does she have for kids today who are becoming internet famous faster than ever before?
“I think my advice would be that there [are] much more important things in life, and they shouldn’t base their happiness or their self-worth … upon other people’s opinions of them, especially strangers … because there’s so much more to life than this. … There [are] always going to be haters out there, but you just don’t pay attention to them. … I think it’s all about believing in yourself and only paying attention to the positive and just not letting [others’ negativity] bring you down.” – Paris Hilton
Paris definitely practices what she preaches. I’m so inspired by the way she’s learned to weather criticism and stay grounded and true to herself. She’s infusing more and more of her genuine, kind, and deep personality into her personal branding, and I know that will make her even more successful.
Guys, having a personal brand is essential for anyone hoping to work in the business world. And when you’re building your brand, make sure to make it authentic to who you are. Audiences want to see the real you — So take courage! Remember that there will always be critics, but there will be many more opportunities to make genuine connections with others through your authenticity.
So what’s next for Paris Hilton? Well, for one thing, she’s actively working to protect teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues.
“I’m just really looking forward to the next phase of my life and using my voice to really make a difference and make a change. And I’m now in contact with Senator Sarah Gessler of Oregon, and she is passing legislation on the troubled teen industry. So I want to be there to support her and really shine a light on this cause … I just feel like I was given this gift and I want to use it in a positive way to change the world.” – Paris Hilton
Beyond that, Paris definitely has some personal goals she wants to work toward, including becoming a mother by the end of next year. But above all, she wants to continue learning, growing, and living by being true to herself.
“I want to continue being who I am for real. And it’s so freeing that I don’t have to be that character anymore because now everyone knows the truth and I have nothing to hide anymore. So I’m just excited to really just do something with meaning, because I feel that my brand before was just so based on like superficial reality and [materialism], and I don’t know, just wasn’t deep at all. And I am very deep.” – Paris Hilton
What could you do if you stepped out from behind the masks you wear? What would become possible? Paris is truly reaching for the stars, and I believe you can do that too.
I want to acknowledge Paris for her courage in telling her story and for the genuine sweetness and authenticity she brings to her work. It’s so hard to be authentic in a world where we’re all vying for clicks, likes, and subscribes, but Paris does it. She is showing up as herself and putting so much positive energy into the world, and I find that truly inspiring.
Paris’ definition of greatness is short and sweet, and I think she definitely lives up to it:
“My definition of greatness is achieving what you set your mind to, having people respect you, and inspiring others.” – Paris Hilton
I’m so grateful to Paris for coming on The School of Greatness today! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on Instagram! Post a screenshot, tag Paris, @parishilton, and me, @lewishowes, and let us know your biggest takeaways. Remember — You could change a life just by sharing this episode.
Thanks so much for joining me today, guys! Before you go, make sure you check out the full episode. Paris and I talk about so much great stuff that I didn’t have time to touch on here — including her incredible work ethic and some great mindset tips for success. If you’re ready to peel back the layers and discover the real Paris Hilton, join me on Episode 1,012!