This story is part of, our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.
Paris Hilton is a name many people know, even if they don't know much about her aside from the fact that she's famous. The new YouTube documentary This Is Paris aims to change that by showing the woman and entrepreneur behind the "that's hot" persona. When the film begins we see her in a sound booth recording a voiceover and going in-and-out of her signature Paris personality and voice. It's amazing and surprising to witness.
On, Hilton explains why she agreed to participate in the documentary and what she hopes people will take away from it.
"I felt like it was the perfect time in my life. I've been through so much. And there's a lot of misconceptions about me," said a candid Hilton. "People have never known who I truly am because I've never shown it before. And I was ready to tell my story. I finally, especially during shooting that film, figured out so much about about myself."
One of the most compelling parts of This Is Paris is watching Hilton talk about lifelong trauma that stems from abuse she suffered in her teens while at the Provo Canyon boarding school in Utah. Hilton joins other survivors in the Breaking Code Silence movement to shed light on for-profit schools billed as treatment and behavior modification programs for kids. Code Silence refers to a technique by which students are forced to not talk with a targeted student, thereby socially isolating them until they hit a breaking point. Hilton hopes that opening up about her abuse will help remove the shame and stigma and encourage others to do the same.
"It's important to know that you can tell your story," said Hilton. "When you're young and you're growing up, you don't realize who you are yet. It's easy to get manipulated by people and to feel ashamed to discuss things like that. If you're going through something and it's difficult and it's hard and it's abusive, it's important to open up to someone who can help you, and not stay in a situation like that because you want love. It's not love if someone is abusing you, whether it be emotionally, verbally, physically. Nobody should ever be treated like that."
During our interview, Hilton discusses This Is Paris and talks about how participating in the film helped her deal with her abuse and how she hopes to empower others to do the same. We also discuss her 19 different product lines, The Simple Life and how she handles privacy in her life.
One of my favorite moments during our conversation was around her "that's hot" persona. She explains the origin of her "Paris" voice.
"It came when I was at Provo, and I was thinking about my life when I got out of there. I just wanted to become something else," said Hilton. "I was really inspired by Marilyn Monroe. I know that she also had two voices. When she was on camera, she would do the kind of higher pitch-like sexy baby voice. And then I heard when she was off camera, she would speak in her normal tone of voice."
Listen to my entire conversation with Hilton on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. This Is Paris is available to watch on YouTube. Also, you can subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.