She decided to shoot This Is Paris, a documentary about her upbringing, fame and recovery as a survivor of emotional, verbal and physical abuse while attending a boarding school in Utah as a teenager. Now, she’s ready to use her platform to make a difference.  

Hilton spoke to Adweek’s Lisa Granatstein, editor, svp programming, about how the documentary on YouTube has transformed her life—and how she plans to apply that to her entrepreneurial endeavors during the Women Trailblazers Summit on Thursday.

Hilton said she’s always wanted to portray a “perfect life,” but after opening up about her verbal, emotional and physical abuse, being honest has been “one of the most empowering times” of her life.

“I have never been so real in my life or so vulnerable or really told my story,” she said. “It was very hard to do. But I’m so happy that I did because it’s already creating so much change.”

That change has included leading a silent protest in front of Provo Canyon School, the school she attended, with other survivors. She’s also been working with Breaking Code Silence, an organization committed to raising awareness about abuse in residential treatment centers for teens. In January, Hilton said she has plans to visit Washington, D.C. to work with legislators and senators on passing legislation to shut these places down and “hold them accountable for what they’ve done.”

“I feel like I really have a purpose in life, and a real mission and something that I really am just putting all of my efforts into,” she said.

The future of the ‘Paris Hilton’ brand

During the summit, Granatstein pointed out that since 2004, Hilton has produced 28 fragrances, 19 clothing and accessories product lines (with more than $4 billion in sales). Looking ahead, Hilton wants to move into the health and wellness spaces. Hilton is also in the midst of building an audio and digital company that will include her own podcast and others, with plans to launch in 2021.

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With the public seeing a different side to Hilton after filming This Is Paris, Hilton is ready to shatter misconceptions she admits she had a hand in creating.

“People see just how strong I am,” she said. “I’m not a dumb blonde; I’m just very good at pretending to be one.”

While Hilton thinks that it’s more important for people to focus on what they think of themselves instead of what other thinks of them, her advice to break through misconceptions is simple: Be honest.

“If you really do want to prove yourself, it’s really just showing people who you really are,” she said.

The same advice also applies when building a company.

“When you have a brand, everything that goes with it has to be something that really resonates with you, that really speaks to you. … That’s what I’ve always done,” Hilton said.



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