Paris Hilton, renowned not only for her beauty, but also as a hotel heiress, television star, entrepreneur, podcaster, and advocate, is often referred to as the “original” influencer—a global icon who has amassed more than 100 million followers across myriad social media platforms.
She is also widely recognized as a business innovator, and her multi-billion-dollar integrated media and product company, [11:11] Media, is an integral part of her ever-growing platform, where the overriding mission is to “inspire, empower, and create lasting, positive impact.”
What many do not know is that Paris is an unstoppable force for good in the world, and she has dedicated her life to accomplishing this mission in all she does.
Her critically acclaimed documentary, This Is Paris, demonstratively captures this essence. In it, she bravely reveals the abuses suffered as a teenager while attending Provo Canyon School, a boarding facility for troubled teens, in Utah. The film has garnered more than 51 million views to date and created massive ripple effects.
“I feel like we really got this important message out there, even though that wasn’t the original intention of the film. I was never planning on telling anyone that story. It all just happened very naturally with the director, Alexander Dean, who made me feel comfortable enough to even say what happened out loud. This was something I kept in for so long… I had no idea the world would react to it as it has.
“I’m now so grateful that I was brave enough to tell my story, because it’s made a clear difference. I’ve gotten so many letters… there are thousands of children who have been through the same thing I have. I don’t feel alone anymore, and I have learned so much about myself. It’s been the most healing experience I’ve ever gone through—something that’s really changed my life in every way.”
In the film, there is a noticeable bonding between Paris and the women who endured similar experiences. That’s because Paris knows what it’s like to feel like the only person in the world enduring particular circumstances:
“I felt alone for so long. I never thought anyone would understand, but there are people out there who have been through the same thing. Finding them, talking with them, and letting it out is so healing.
“I know it’s hard, especially in the beginning. You just don’t even want to think about it. So many who’ve been through traumatic experiences just want to ignore them… act like they never happened. It’s too painful to think about, let alone ‘go there.’ But in the long run, that hurts you more, because you’re holding everything in. As soon as you release it and speak about it, the healing process begins.”
Since the release of her documentary, Paris has helped spearhead policy changes across the United States. Her work in partnership with Breaking Code Silence, a nonprofit with a goal to “eradicate the abuse of children in systematically abusive institutions,” has worked to develop federal legislation designed to positively impact 120,000 youth annually.
Recently, Paris decided to parlay her influence and ability to impact positive change even further… via podcasting. On the heels of the success of her first podcast, This Is Paris, she chose to lean into the power of audio, “the future,” as Paris describes it, to reach even more people via a brand-new show, Trapped in Treatment.
Trapped in Treatment “… focuses on the story of one youth treatment facility, its survivors, and the traumatizing abuse at the hands of their captors. Hosted by Caroline Cole and Rebecca Mellinger, it weaves together personal accounts with historical detail and expert opinions to shine a light on what really happens at behavior modification centers, and how this billion-dollar industry has flourished for so long.”
“This show is so close to my heart,” Paris said. “I really just wanted to share my platform, so we can invite the voices of other survivors to come and tell their stories… people who have worked in the industry, senators and legislators, as well as the families and parents of the children who have been sent to these places. I want people to know the truth about what happens behind closed doors. That’s something I’ve been fighting for. And we’ve made so much progress, changing laws in seven states and now taking it to a federal level.
“It’s about raising as much awareness as possible, so people can’t ignore the atrocities anymore.”
While podcasting appears to be a natural extension to her media empire, it wasn’t until the pandemic that she became an avid listener. But then, she was hooked:
“I love how you can multitask while listening, ‘cause that’s me… that’s how I always am… so many things going on at once. When iHeart approached us last year to launch This Is Paris, I thought it was just perfect—I could have my own show, talk about what I wanted, interview interesting people, and set the record straight when the media made something up. It’s an amazing way to share my voice and platform with others.”
Paris produces This Is Paris via her podcasting and audio company, London Audio, which is underpinned by a multi-year partnership with iHeart. During the show, she has in-depth conversations with the “hottest in movies, music, and television, innovators, creators, newsmakers, and icons.”
“One of my favorite guests was Amy Schumer,” she revealed. “I’m such a huge fan of hers! I think she’s so hilarious and fun… she’s a really cool girl. My dream guest is definitely Madonna. I’ve always loved her. I don’t know if she conducts podcast interviews, but that would definitely be a dream come true if I could have her on!”
Paris encourages others who have a message to share to embrace the world of podcasting, too, even if they feel hesitant to do so initially.
“I am actually a very shy, introverted person, which people would never believe unless they knew me. So I understand that hesitancy. But if podcasting is something you want to get into, just go for it. You can be at home, in your room, recording on your phone, and that’s it… you can get your voice out there. It’s not like you have to be on camera, and no one has to be there with you.
“You could even do something like the ‘pod posts’ I’ve created, which are shorter-form, bite-size bits about whatever you want. This way, people can quickly and easily digest it. For me, it’s usually about what I’ve been doing that day or something that’s happening that I want to talk about. These episodes are never really planned
Watching Paris on screen, listening to her shows, or seeing her on stage as an internationally acclaimed DJ, it might be difficult to imagine her being shy… or having even the slightest bit of introvertive tendencies.
“I’m definitely nervous at first when I start my set, but there’s nothing like being on stage! Especially at Tomorrowland, or a big festival, DJ’ing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It’s insane… you feel like you’re on top of the world. Everybody is jumping and screaming and dancing and smiling and crying… just being so happy. You can feel the energy from them. It’s indescribable.
“DJ’ing is absolutely one of my favorite things to do, and the shyness quickly subsides after I start. There’s something magical about connecting with people on such an emotional level. This is something I aspire to do in all areas of my life.”
Paris’s passions extend to the emerging world of WEB3, including NFTs, as well:
“I am fascinated by it all. I’ve been in the space for a while now. It’s exciting to see everything happening with technology. It’s time for creators to get what they deserve—taking away the gatekeepers and giving everyone a chance to be able to make it. I love what WEB3 is all about and what it represents. I had so much fun creating ‘Paris World’ in Roblox and being able to hang out with my fans. I’m constantly amazed by technology and what’s becoming possible!”
Her role as an NFT leader—she was named to Forbes’ NFT 50 Most Influential People in NFTs list and was the winner of the “Best Charity NFT” at the 2020 NFT Awards—has lent itself to supporting other women, as well, thanks to her curation and launching of the Empowered By Paris: Empowered Women Empower Women Exhibition—“an NFT exhibit dedicated to showcasing and equipping female artists with a platform to succeed.”
“I play in the worlds I love,” Paris shared. “If I like something, it doesn’t matter who the artist is. I’ll buy it. Some people come into this world only thinking about investing and what something will be worth. I really enjoy supporting emerging artists, especially females. I like having their art in my collections, and I know it helps them so much. I’m so passionate about helping artists in this community, ‘cause I love everyone so much!”
With so many endeavors, it’s difficult for Paris to narrow down what she is most excited about, going forward.
“I love my show, Paris in Love, which is streaming on Peacock and E right now. It’s so beautiful and so much fun. It’s funny, it’s emotional… it’s everything. And the wedding episodes are stunning and magical, like a fairytale.
“I’m also about to release my 30th fragrance, which I’m really proud of. When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of having one. So this is another dream come true! I love all my projects… my new tracksuit line is about to come out, too, which is really cute. My life is pretty nonstop!”
At the end of the day, Paris aims to take pride in all of her work and projects. Her tireless support of artists, women, and children around the world helps to facilitate this mission while illuminating her as the force for good she is… one who is truly using her influence to make a meaningful difference.