Paris Hilton has documented so much of her life on camera, but the OG influencer is getting more candid than ever in a new YouTube documentary, This Is Paris.
"I think people are gonna be very surprised when they see this film and see sides to me that they've never seen before," Hilton tells ET's Kevin Frazier ahead of her film's release. "It's gonna be very surprising and shocking to people and then I think it's also gonna have people understand me a lot more, and why I built this character to protect myself."
In the trailer for This Is Paris, Hilton says that she built her mega-popular public persona in part to shield her true self from the world after years of abuse. The model, reality star and entrepreneur opens up in the film about the trauma she's still coping with from her time at the Provo Canyon School, a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens, which she attended in the late 1990s.
"It actually was not supposed to be the original premise of this film," Hilton shares with ET. "I wanted to show the world the businesswoman I am and the empire I built, and that ended up coming out naturally because I felt so comfortable with the director."
Hilton claims she and other students suffered physical and mental abuse from the staff at her boarding school, including beatings, solitary confinement, and forced medication. In This Is Paris, she's seen revealing to her mother, Kathy, that students were threatened with punishment if they told their family about the alleged abuse. (In statements to multiple outlets, a representative for the Provo Canyon School has said, "Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time.")
In fact, Hilton says her parents haven't even seen the entirety of her story yet, beyond the scenes that they filmed with her. They're planning to watch the documentary as a family ahead of its premiere.
"'It's definitely going to be very hard to watch and very emotional," she admits. "I don't think any parent is ready to watch something like this, but I think it will only bring us closer, and I can just get that off my chest and move on."
The alleged abuse she suffered as a teen, Hilton says, is part of what led her into relationships with abusive and manipulative men. The socialite and DJ also claims she never would have made her 2003 sex tape, 1 Night in Paris, with her ex, Rick Salomon, if it weren't for her boarding school trauma.
"Doing that tape was one of the most painful experiences I have ever been through in my life, and I would have never put myself in that position or met a man like that if I had not went through what I went through," she says, nothing that her abuse at Provo Canyon made toxic relationships "seem normal." "I was so numb, I was so lost and I just met the worst type of person you could ever meet."
"And if that happened today, it would be a completely different story," she adds of the sex tape's public release. "It's terrible that I had to deal with that, but at least now women are going to be getting the respect that they deserve, and when something happens to them, they're [seen as] a victim, it's not their fault."
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These days, Hilton is still working around the clock -- even amid the pandemic. She recently released her 27th fragrance, is working on new music, her third book, and even her own cooking show. But she's also working on her own happiness.
"This is the first time where I've actually had to pause and really reflect on my life and what matters, and I'm in the most incredible relationship, I'm so happy, and I'm just ready for the next phase of my life," she explains. "I'm definitely gonna still do my business, but I do wanna slow down in the traveling and working 24/7, 'cause I have more important things I'm focusing on."
She's giving back, using her platform to "raise awareness for causes that I care about," including Breaking Code Silence, a movement to raise awareness about the abuse and lack of regulation in the "Troubled Teen Industry."
"I've been getting letters and videos from people just telling me how grateful they are that I told my story," she shares. "Because they finally can tell their story, and they're finally speaking to their families again. There's parents that are pulling their children out of Provo Canyon School and other schools like it, so this is actually making a difference. I'm just excited just to use my platform for the greater good."
And she's ready to take big steps in her personal life as well. Hilton went Instagram official with boyfriend Carter Reum in April, and gushes to ET about her "perfect match."
"He really is just so incredible -- supportive, loyal, kind, brilliant, and I look up to him so much," she marvels. "He is always giving me business advice and is so caring and romantic. We just have the best time together."
"I was never really open to a relationship, because I wasn't ready to open my heart, just because of what I've been through," she adds. "I never had let anyone fully in until now, and I am just so excited for that next step and to get married and have babies and just finally be as happy as I always wished."
Does that mean any big announcements on the horizon? "Not in 2020," Hilton says with a laugh. "This year is just the craziest year ever, so 2021, definitely."
That's not to say that she'll ever give up her public persona entirely. "I'm always gonna be a boss babe but I'm also gonna be a grownup and I'll be a mom and wife," Hilton declares. She notes that she's inspired by what she's seeing from the new generation of influencers and young celebrities.
"The new influencer is the activist and I'm seeing a lot of that right now, this new generation that really cares about the planet, they care about making a difference and really fighting for causes," she says. "I really applaud them and I'm impressed by it."
This Is Paris premieres Sept. 14 on YouTube. Check out the video below for more on the documentary.