Most millennials grew up watching reality TV explode from the romantic pursuits of The Bachelor franchise, to innocent competitions like American Idol, to fish-out-of-water scenarios on The Simple Life. Even when a show isn’t airing, fans follow stars' every move on IG. No one knows this better than Paris Hilton, whose new Viceland show Hollywood Love Story takes an honest look at today's quest for fame and how, when the iPhone isn't on camera mode, things aren't quite what your favorite TV personalities make them out to be. If you're expecting sparkles and rainbows, buckle up, Hilton's new series gets a little dark.
"[Hollywood Love Story is] really about how social media has completely changed society and taken over people's lives," Hilton tells Bustle over the phone, in a blink-of-an-eye moment where she’s not traveling. (She admits she's "always on a plane," but still stays upbeat throughout the conversation.) "A lot of people come to Hollywood with this dream to become the next whoever — they crave it really badly. It doesn't always work out for everyone. So there are some success stories, but also I wanted it to be real."
"I had no idea it would be as dark as it is," she says of the series that she deems a "cautionary tale," airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. "There's nothing like it on TV. I'm really proud of how it turned out. I'm just rooting for all of the kids on the show."
On the series, she serves as a "fairy godmother" of sorts, since who knows better about transforming social media into star power than this heiress? With 17.2 million on Twitter and 9.3 million on Instagram, she's super familiar with major fame. But just because she's in the spotlight, it doesn't mean people really know her.
"There's definitely a lot of misconceptions about me," Hilton confesses. "Because of my last name, a lot of people assume, 'Oh, she's spoiled, she's handed everything.' They don't realize that I've done everything on my own since I was a teenager. I've always wanted to make my family proud and be an independent woman."
"I feel so proud of the woman I am," she says. Even though the internet's changed, she tries her best not to. "My mom said the night before The Simple Life aired, 'As soon as this airs on Fox tomorrow, your life is going to change forever. I just want you to always remain the same sweet, down-to-earth girl that you are because you have such a big heart and I don't want this to get to your head,'" Hilton recalls, deeming the advice something she's always kept in mind.
And at first, that dive into fame had its rocky moments — including a slew of gossip. "It used to hurt my feelings in the beginning when I came into this industry if somebody was being mean," Hilton recalls. "I would get so upset by girls making up mean rumors and just people being very negative."
The tables have turned, though: "I've been through it for so long that nothing really affects me anymore." Speaking of online hate, she adds, "I just don't pay attention to it. And if they are rude, my team will block them and delete their comments, so they're basically wasting their time, because I'm not gonna see it."
She encourages others to not let negativity get them down either: "It doesn't really matter what other people think about you. What matters most is what you think of yourself." Although she knows it's not easy, especially when people get caught up in the pressure to impress. "The message of the show is all about loving yourself and not paying attention to haters or people who want to pull you down, because that happens a lot, especially in Hollywood."
Still, it's worth remembering that outlook comes from years of experience. "I've been through so much in life, and life is way too short and too beautiful and amazing to waste my time thinking of negative things or negative people," Hilton says. "Bad vibes, I can't be around it."
It's all about everyone pulling each other up, and girls could definitely take over the world.
Hilton definitely is not exaggerating. Throughout the early and mid-2000s, her name was perpetually linked to dramatic rumors about her and other young stars (Nicole Richie, Kim Kardashian, and Lindsay Lohan, to name a few). But she was never asking for that type of attention.
"The media literally tried to blow so many things out of proportion," she says now. "Always trying to start feuds, whether it be with me or other celebrity girls against each other, where they were getting headlines or selling magazines off our backs... I had to deal with that for so many years. And it's just like, we're not in high school. This is ridiculous."
Thanks to platforms like Twitter and Instagram, Hilton can now set the record straight. "I've known all these girls my entire life, since I was a little girl. I love that with social media now people can see we're all friends," she notes. The transparency lets her tell her story, not somebody else.
Instead of focusing on faux feuds, Hilton emphasizes, "I am so into women's empowerment, girl power, and I think it's incredible to see all of my friends and just all these girls — who are these beautiful, young entrepreneurs — who are making huge businesses and empires."
"I feel like everyone is really coming together. It's so amazing," she continues, calling it "such an exciting time for women." "It's all about everyone pulling each other up, and girls could definitely take over the world. Especially with talking about the #MeToo movement and everything, women are kicking ass and killing it and showing guys who's the boss."
From her tone, it clear she's not actually belittling the opposite sex, just focusing on lifting women up. That's further seen when praising former co-star Nicole Richie. "Nicole is one of the most hilarious and entertaining women in the world," Hilton says. "She is so much fun to watch and hang out with, obviously. I love her new show [Great News]. I was watching it the other day. She's so good on it."
Yet while she appreciates Richie, Hilton offers a tidbit that may hurt fans' hearts: No, The Simple Life isn’t coming back despite crossed fingers earlier this year. In April, Hilton shared a Twitter poll, asking fans if they wanted a reboot.
"Actually the network asked me to do it back when I asked that," she shares. "But I am so busy... I have so many businesses happening. I would not be able to go to a small town again and do that."
But if it’s any consolation, the next quote may make fans let out a bittersweet "sanasa." "I feel like that show is just so one-of-a-kind and you can't remake that type of show," Hilton explains, "Because it's just the perfect timing and it was just so funny. I still watch it all the time."
Even though there won't be a reboot, Hilton says she still thinks about the families they met during the series that ran from 2003-2007; she's curious where they all are now. And as for what else is on Hilton's mind, here's a peek inside.
When I ask what people don't know about her ever-public life, she rattles off a list of fun facts: "I'm a huge tech geek," teasing that virtual reality is going to be the next big social media hangout. Apparently she's gone sky-diving six times, classifying herself a "daredevil." Plus, she played on her high school ice hockey team.
Long story short, it's time to throw your preconceived notions about Hilton out the window. Let's leave the feuds in the past — and all those "bad vibes," too.