Since the early 2000s, Paris Hilton has had her finger on the pulse. From her culture-shifting reality show, The Simple Life, which premiered 20 years ago, to her cheeky fashion lines (have you seen her velour tracksuit collection?), foray into DJing and early experiments in the metaverse, Hilton says in the new issue of Us Weekly, “I’ve always been forward-thinking… and not afraid to take risks.”
It’s paid off: Over the last two decades, the multihyphenate star has proven herself to be a savvy entrepreneur who’s built a major business empire. “It’s about staying true to myself,” Hilton, 42, tells Us of her instincts for what’s next. “And having a bit of luck always helps!” Most recently, Hilton launched 11:11 Media, a multiplatform global entertainment company focused on producing fashion and lifestyle content across film, TV, music, books, consumer products and more. “It’s about telling stories that matter and uplifting voices that need to be heard,” says Hilton, who the company’s president and COO Bruce Gersh calls “the heartbeat” of 11:11 Media.
As a new mom — in January she welcomed son Phoenix with her husband of nearly two years, Carter Reum, 42 — and a fierce advocate, based on her own experiences, for reform of so-called troubled teen institutions, Hilton believes her future is bright. “[I’m] using my platform and what I’ve built for good,” she says. “I want to look back and see a legacy of positivity, change and empowerment.”
Growing up, did you think you’d become a media mogul?
When I was a little girl, I dreamed about becoming a veterinarian. As I grew up, my dreams evolved, and I became more interested in fashion and music, and later business. But my love of animals always stayed with me. That’s why I have so many doggies.
You come from a long line of successful businessmen and -women. Did you absorb any lessons from them?
Definitely. I feel really blessed to have just had such incredible mentors growing up, starting with my grandfather and also both my mom and my dad. My family instilled a really strong work ethic in me and [taught me] that success comes from working hard and following your dreams.
In the early days of starting your own business, what was one experience that taught you a valuable lesson?
I think from being in this industry for so long, I’ve learned to make sure to have trustworthy people in my life — people that I can really depend on, because it’s been hard for me. You can’t do everything on your own, no matter how driven you are.
People were skeptical when you first ventured into the music business. Now you’re one of the top-earning DJs in the world. What’s been your approach to your music career?
I’ve always been about pushing boundaries and exploring different sides of myself. Music has just been so healing for me and one of the best ways for me to express who I am. I just focused on doing what I love and being on stage. [I recently played] at Tomorrowland in front of hundreds of thousands of people, and seeing the happiness in their eyes and the way that the music makes them feel is just such an indescribable experience. It makes me so proud to really have proved everyone wrong and become such a success in this world.
How did you get into DJing?
I’ve always loved music, my entire life. When I first started working, I was doing club appearances in Las Vegas just hosting the party, but then I realized that I would much rather be the conductor of the party. So basically, from inventing to getting paid to party, I turned it into DJing. I [hired] the best people in the business to teach me everything there is to know about it — because it is actually very technical. I’ve worked really hard to really prove myself and it’s just been amazing to be able to play at the biggest music festivals around the world and best nightclubs and just bring my love of music all around the world.
How do you keep figuring out the best way to insert yourself into pop culture and keep people talking about you after all these years?
I can see into the future! [Laughs.] I’ve always been ahead of my time, whether it’s been reality TV, social media, fashion, music. Maybe it’s being an Aquarius — I don’t know! It’s just part of my superpower.
Your latest reality show, Paris in Love, was renewed for a second season. Anything you can share about it?
It’s launching later this year on Peacock! Season 1 was all about the wedding, and now it’s just [more] about this next phase in my life — being a new mom and Phoenix coming into this world. I’m really excited.
Has it been hard adjusting to life as a working mom?
It’s definitely a lot to balance it all. I love what I do so much, but my baby is my top priority. All of my priorities have shifted. I am saying no to so many things because I want to be able to spend as much time with [my son] as possible. He’s just my little angel.
What’s been the biggest surprise about motherhood?
Just that moms are superheroes.! It’s the hardest job of all, [but] it’s the most rewarding.
Do you think you’ll have more kids?
I can’t wait to have a sister for [Phoenix].
With so much going on, how do you unwind?
[Laughs.] I don’t really have a lot of downtime, but [when I do], I wanna spend all of it with my family. Taking Phoenix to the park and just hanging out with him at the house, the puppies and my husband. I love sitting with them and playing games and reading books. My sister [Nicky Hilton Rothschild] always says you don’t want to miss those moments. All my free time, I’m doing that. And then also my music and my art. I love to paint and cook and just be with my husband and my baby boy.
Netflix’s Cooking With Paris was so fun. Any interest in penning a cookbook?
Yes. I’ve actually been planning it, thinking of recipes and cute things. I’ll write them down in my notes. On my cooking show, I always loved to add sparkles and rainbows and just like make it really Paris-ized. So I’d love to do a book like that.
After opening up about your horrific experiences at boarding schools in your memoir and 2020’s This Is Paris, you became an advocate against youth abuse. How important is this work for you?
I’m so proud of all of the impact work I’ve been doing that already changed laws in 10 states to protect children from abuse. This has just been the most empowering time in my life. The work I’m doing in Washington, D.C., with my federal legislation, is really my legacy, and I’m just so proud of everything I’ve been through and the woman I’ve become today. I’ve turned my pain into a purpose.
What’s next for you?
With my partnership with iHeart, I have my own podcast, “I am Paris,” and we just launched our newest podcast, “The History of the World’s Greatest Nightclubs,” and season 2 of “Trapped in Treatment” [will be out] this fall, which is around all my advocacy and impact work. I’m also really excited about my new cookware line, which [will debut] in Walmart and on Amazon this fall. I’ll also be launching new ventures in the beauty space, the mommy and me space, and the pet space.
Advice for other young female entrepreneurs?
Remember that every challenge in your life is an opportunity in disguise. Embrace them, learn from them and use them to propel you further into your journey. And don’t be afraid to show the world what you’re made of. Dream big because the only limits that exist are the ones that you place on yourself.