On her new Viceland show, Hollywood Love Story, Paris Hilton is referred to as "The OG." And while she's certainly not an OG in the Ice-T sense, Hilton is the architect behind a very 2018 kind of fame: the ability to brand oneself into superstardom. And she's undeniably successful at it, a persistent household name — nearly 15 years after the premiere of her first reality show, The Simple Life, Hilton has a massive social media presence, a thriving DJ career, and a business empire that includes luxury hotels, a new skincare line, and 24 perfumes (the latest, Platinum Rush, was inspired by her engagement ring from her fiancée, actor and artist Chris Zylka).
But while Hilton has conquered this particular game, it's not easy. Hollywood Love Story takes a look at the strivers (aspiring singers, performers, models, dominatrixes, socialites, etc.) who use Instagram like it's their job — and don't necessarily make it work. Hilton serves as a sort of guide through the darker sides of Hollywood, offering up tidbits about the grim realities of the entertainment business and social media addiction.
PAPER caught up with her before she boarded a plane to Ibiza for the weekend to chat about the show, her life in the spotlight, and the perils of Instagram.
Hollywood Love Story is wild, and often very bleak. How did it come together? Do you think it will make fans look at you in a new light?
I'm so proud of the show. There's nothing like it on TV.
Viceland came to my house and said we're doing this show called Hollywood Love Story. They said, "You are the godmother of social media and you basically invented this. There's no one else who can fill this role but you, we want you to be the fairy godmother and give your advice and comments." I thought it was interesting because I love Viceland, their content is so interesting and innovative.
I just noticed on TV — like, The Simple Life was so real and so ahead of its time, and nowadays I feel like everything is really fake and scripted. I wanted to make a show that was real, with real people, that showed something that was really important right now. Some of these people, especially this generation, all they live for is social media. I just wanted to show the real side and the dark side of it. Everyone wants to post the perfect photo, but everyone has those sad moments when they're just at home alone, not feeling themselves.
"Everyone wants to post the perfect photo, but everyone has those sad moments when they're just at home alone, not feeling themselves."
What do you want people to take away from the show? Do you think it's a cautionary tale?
I want viewers to see the other side. People move to Hollywood with a dream and everyone thinks it's going to happen for them, and then a lot of people are badly disappointed. I've been in this industry for years and seen so many people come and go. This business is not as glamorous as it looks, and the show shows that. When kids move here and think everything is going to be perfect, it's important to show that it's not and see that [failure] is a possibility too. And seeing how lonely some people are because of social media.
There are good and bad parts of it. The Spirit Sisters are killing it and using social media in great ways by doing these amazing photoshoots, traveling the world, using it for their brand in a way. So I think there's some good and bad.
Did you have much one-on-one time with the cast members?
I haven't met all of them, but the Spirit Sisters, Chloë and Brandi, are my two best girlfriends and I think they need their own show, so I literally pulled them in, and I was like, "You guys do the show, I want the world to see how amazing you are." They remind me of mermaids, unicorns, fairies. They're so beautiful and so creative and cool, and I really wanted to show them.
I feel like I do have a gift for making people's dreams come true. And with this show, a lot of people who do have sad stories are going to get a lot of exposure. Maybe their dream will come true. To be able to do that for someone is such an amazing feeling.
"I feel like I do have a gift for making people's dreams come true."
In your own life, how do you maintain a balance between what's for social media and what's for you?
For my social, I love to show my life. And being a businesswoman, I love to show my products. I also have a lot of people who I meet on Instagram who are aspiring designers, and they don't have big followings, nobody really knows their brand. So I love supporting these young designers who send me beautiful creations. When I post for them, they're like, "Oh my god, I just got 300 orders today."
So I like how you can use Instagram in a way that makes people's dreams and brands come to life and help them make a living off of that platform. All these young emerging designers, makeup artists, whatever they're doing, they're all using social media as a tool. And also my favorite part is staying in contact with them. So the fact that I'm able to basically text with them and meet them all over the world and see how happy they are, it's such an amazing journey to see the smile on their face.
What advice would you give to someone who gets in too deep?
That's just like everyone I know. [Laughs] Even when you just go to dinner, everyone I know likes being on their phone. I think with [Hollywood Love Story] it shows it can really be a different world, especially when people read mean comments from haters and start to believe them. But it's important to show that [social media] is not real life. This is just apart of your life. But when it takes over their lives and they're living for Instagram, caring more what other people think of them, that's just not a way to live. Our society is just obsessed with it. I'm obsessed with it too, but I'm happy.
There are consistently tabloid headlines about your presence on social media. Even though you've been famous for a long time, does it ever get to you?
No, I don't pay attention to it. I don't have time to think about negative things. I just live life and love life.
Photo courtesy of Viceland