She decided to make This Is Paris, a documentary about her upbringing, fame, and recovery as a survivor of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse when she attended boarding school in Utah as a teenager. Now she is ready to use her platform to make a difference.
Hilton spoke to Adweek's Lisa Granatstein, editor for SVP programming, about how the documentary on YouTube changed her life – and how she plans to apply that to her business endeavors during Thursday's Women Trailblazers Summit.
Hilton said she always wanted to portray a "perfect life," but after researching her verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, it was "one of the toughest times" of her life to be honest.
"I've never been this real, vulnerable, or really told my story in my life," she said. “It was very difficult to do. But I'm so happy I did because it's already making so much change. "
That change included leading a silent protest in front of Provo Canyon School, the school she attended, with fellow survivors. She has also worked with Breaking Code Silence, an organization committed to raising awareness of abuse in inpatient treatment centers for adolescents. In January, Hilton said she had plans to visit Washington, DC, to work with lawmakers and senators to pass laws to close these places and "hold them accountable for what they have done" .
"I feel like I really have a purpose in life and a real mission and something that I really just put all my efforts into," she said.
The future of the "Paris Hilton" brand
During the summit, Granatstein pointed out that Hilton has produced 28 perfumes, 19 apparel and accessories lines since 2004 (with sales exceeding $ 4 billion). Looking to the future, Hilton wants to move into the health and wellness sectors. Hilton is also in the process of building an audio and digital company that includes their own podcast and others. The start is planned for 2021.
With the public seeing a different side to Hilton after filming This Is Paris, Hilton stands ready to destroy misunderstandings she admits were involved in creating it.
"People see how strong I am," she said. "I'm not a stupid blonde. I'm only very good at pretending to be one."
While Hilton thinks it is more important for people to focus on what they think of themselves than what others think of them, her advice to overcome misunderstandings is simple: be honest .
"If you really want to prove yourself, it just shows people who you really are," she said.
The same advice applies when building a business.
“When you have a brand, everything that goes with it has to be something that really resonates with you and that really speaks to you. … I've always done that, "said Hilton.