When Paris Hilton was just beginning her career as a bona fide reality star, a sex tape she made with her ex-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, was released in 2004, something the heiress had never planned for or wanted to happen.
In the new Netflix documentary film The American Meme, which was released on Dec. 7, Hilton reflected on how she felt after the tape's release, getting emotional in a rare unguarded moment for the 37-year-old.
"Literally overnight my entire life changed...everyone was making fun of it," Hilton said while wiping away tears. "I didn't leave my house for, like months. I was so embarrassed. I felt like everyone on the street was laughing at me."
If something similar happened today, the reaction would be extremely different, but when Hilton's tape was released, it was mocked by late-night hosts and comedians alike, making the heiress the target of countless jokes.
"It was like being raped," Hilton said. "It felt like I've lost part of my soul and been talked about in such cruel and mean ways. I was like, 'I just don't want to live,' because I thought everything was taken away from me. I didn't want to be known as that."
The documentary offers a side of Hilton rarely seen, with the heiress speaking in a series of quiet conversations, at one point discussing the public party girl persona she's cultivated ever since stepping into the spotlight.
"I'm a 21-year-old the past two decades," she said. "It's all part of an image and a brand and being a product."
"I already do have a legacy, but once you start, that you just can't stop," she continued. "A lot of people don't understand that you need to be sustainable forever."
Over the years, Hilton has grown extremely close with her fans, who she considers part of her family.
"I feel closer with them than I do with most people I know," she said. "They're really like my family."
"I'm constantly traveling … so it gets really lonely sometimes. I've been through so much in life and I don't really trust people," she added. "I've just grown accustomed to being f—ed over. But with my fans, I don't feel like that at all. Not a day goes by when I'm not texting, FaceTiming or emailing with my Little Hiltons."0comments
In addition to Hilton, The American Meme, which explores the rise of the internet star, also follows Josh "the Fat Jew" Ostrovsky, Vine star Brittany Furlan and Kirill "the Slut Whisperer" Bichutsky, with DJ Khaled, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski also appearing.
Photo Credit: Netflix