Why Kim Kardashian Owes Her Career To Paris Hilton

From birth, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton had a leg up in the celebrity game. They were both born into affluent families with Hollywood ties. Paris is an heiress of the Hilton Hotels chain. Her paternal great-grandfather Conrad Hilton founded the company. The family's famous last name and ample bank accounts made Paris "famous" from the jump, getting a feature in Vanity Fair when she was just a teenager partying at the hottest nightclubs in New York City.

Kim also grew up in close proximity to celebrity. Her late father, Robert Kardashian, was a defense attorney for his close friend O.J. Simpson. Her mother, Kris Kardashian, became Kris Jenner when she married Olympian Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner). Given their families' plethora of connections, it's really not surprising that Kim and Paris have known each other since they were little kids. They've been through a lot together. Kim and Paris have been best friends, enemies, and everything in between. 

While their relationship with each other has changed a lot throughout their lives, the two of them have always had one thing in common: fame. As of November 2020, Kim has 191 million Instagram followers and 67.2 million Twitter followers. In contrast, Paris has 13.5 million Instagram followers and 16.8 million followers on Twitter. Of course, Paris' statistics are nothing to scoff at, but if you think about it, she could take some credit for Kim's popularity. After all, Kim does owe the start of her career to Paris. 

Kim Kardashian said Paris Hilton 'literally gave' her a career

During a 2019 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Khloe Kardashian told Kim Kardashian, "That's so nice that you're doing that," when Kim said she was going to appear in Paris Hilton's music video for her song "Best Friend's A**." However, Kim didn't feel like Hilton was asking much of her, explaining to her sister, "I really would wanna do anything for her. She literally gave me a career, and I totally acknowledge that." After mentioning that the MET Gala was coming up and her baby (Psalm West) was on the way via surrogate, Kim said, "I would drop [everything] for her because that's important to me, to be loyal to people."

Paris addressed Kim's candid remarks during an interview with ET, declaring, "I love her, and I'm so proud of her and her whole family. They are just girl bosses, killing it. It's just all about women empowerment. I love it." That is a far cry from what Paris said on Entertainment Tonight in 2011. Then, she claimed, "I created Kim Kardashian. Her whole family owes me life," per ShowBiz CheatSheet.

There's also Paris' 2015 appearance on Yahoo!'s Style Session, where she said, "We've known each other since we were little girls, we've always been friends," which is not true, evidenced by the years of feuding that she seemingly overlooked. "It's nice to inspire people, so yeah, I'm really proud of her and what she's done, though."

Paris Hilton taught Kim Kardashian about paparazzi

Before Kim Kardashian became a household name, she was recognized as Paris Hilton's consistent companion in the early 2000's. In a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, Kim recalled, "We'd go anywhere and everywhere just to be seen. We knew exactly where to go, where to be seen, how to have something written about you. All you had to do is go to this restaurant, or this party, talk about whatever you want to talk about, and it would be in the paper the next day." 

She divulged that she "rarely wear[s] underwear," but paparazzi never got those infamous under-the-skirt photos that plagued Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. During a 2019 E! True Hollywood Story episode, Kim credited Paris for teaching her the ropes. Kim recounted, "I remember we were sitting in her SLR Mercedes... and at that point, the paparazzi would lay on the ground to try and get a picture of you, up your dress, and she said, 'OK. We need to make sure you don't give them that'" (via ET).

"I feel like that was the height of everything. Paris really started that movement of having paparazzi follow your every move," she shared during Paris' documentary This is Paris. Kim confessed, "I wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for her, number one, starting out in the reality world and her introducing me to the world. I think the best advice that she ever could've given me was just watching her." 

Paris Hilton dissed Kim Kardashian for years

Kim Kardashian got consistent press as Paris Hilton's friend, but the headlines didn't stop there — she got a lot of media coverage as Paris' frenemy (and occasional enemy). Paris publicly slammed Kim for years, as Kim's relevancy increased, and Paris' fame dwindled. In 2008, Paris said Kim's famous derrière "looks like cottage cheese stuffed in a trash bag" during a radio interview, per TMZ. In 2009, Kim told Howard Stern that Paris called to apologize for the cottage cheese insult.

Kim kept it classy during a 2011 Harper's Bazaar interview, proclaiming, "As I always say, everyone comes into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. And she was in my life for a long time." When the interviewer asked if Paris was "so last season," Kim quipped, "I'll let you say it," explaining that she realized they are "not as similar as [she] thought."

In 2011, ABC News correspondent Dan Harris asked Paris, "Do you worry at times that the people who have followed in your footsteps, like Kim Kardashian, are overshadowing you?" She responded, "No, not at all," but moments later, when he asked, "Do you ever worry about your moment having passed?" she walked out of the interview. She returned to finish their conversation, but Harris seemingly struck a nerve. In December 2016, Grazia declared that they "officially buried their feud" when Paris attended the annual Kardashian/Jenner Family Christmas Eve party, which Paris posted about on Instagram, of course. 

Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton both moved past sex tape scandals

In 2003, a sex tape Paris Hilton made with Rick Salomon leaked, and it has continued to haunt her. In her 2020 documentary, This is Paris, she equated the tape's release to being "electronically raped." Paris said, "For people to think I did it on purpose because after that, all of these 'leaked' tapes were coming out, and it almost became like a blueprint to become famous." She insisted, "I didn't need to do that," promising that she "always had a plan" to launch her career on her own terms.

Kim Kardashian faced a similar predicament in 2007 when her private sex tape with Ray J became public. In 2015, Kim told Rolling Stone that she didn't lean on Paris for support, saying, "I don't think she was that happy. We didn't really talk about it. I probably would have thought, 'Oh, my gosh, let me give her advice,' but we had no communication. But our friendship had fizzled before that."  In 2012, Kim told Oprah Winfrey, "I'm not naive to that fact [the sex tape was] pretty much how I was introduced to the world. It was a negative way, so I felt like I had to really work ten times harder to get people to see the real me." 

Unfortunately, Kim wasn't exaggerating. Over a decade after their sex tape scandals, both Kim and Paris are still asked about the leaked tapes, despite everything else they've accomplished.

Paris Hilton claims she 'invented' the selfie and Kim Kardashian turned selfies into a career move

Paris Hilton says she and Britney Spears "invented the selfie" on November 19, 2006. In 2017, Paris told W, "I think I have a selfie from when I was a little kid, like on a disposable camera." She remarked, "Nowadays, I feel like it's so easy becoming famous. Anybody with a phone can do it," which is ironic since selfies have become such an integral component of Kim Kardashian's public persona, and, therefore, her livelihood. There are countless roundups of Kim's "best selfies" from various publications, including W and Harper's Bazaar. She even has a book full of selfies, the aptly titled Selfish.

In 2016, Kim won a Webby Award in the "Break the Internet" category. When she accepted, she was only allowed to give a five-word acceptance speech, which prompted her to declare, "Nude selfies till I die." That's very on-brand for Kim. While discussing her nude selfies with Rolling Stone in 2015, Kim was asked, "In 20 years, do you want to be remembered as a sex symbol or a businesswoman or what?" She responded, "Both. I think you can be both. You can have it all," and she's not wrong.

BBC disputed Paris' claims that she invented the selfie, citing several examples of people, including Anastasia Romanov, who took pictures of themselves long before she did. Nevertheless, she did popularize the phenomenon, which Kim has profited from many times over.

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian elevated their careers through reality TV

Paris Hilton described The Simple Life as "one of the first reality shows" on Yahoo!'s Style Session in 2015, although she considers herself a pioneer in the genre, Paris claimed she doesn't "have time" to do reality TV. She also agreed that her career "paved the way" for Kim Kardashian's, insisting that she's "proud" of her. Kim even appeared on four episodes of The Simple Life with Paris, according to IMDb, which gave her some media exposure.

In 2020, Paris said, once again, that she is "incredibly proud" of Kim's success, telling  ET, "The empires that her and her sisters and her mother have built is just amazing." She believes the family ended Keeping Up With the Kardashians to follow her lead and focus on business, commenting, "I am sure that is what they want to spend their time doing. That and being with their families." 

That makes some sense, but it's not the most accurate comparison. At the time of this writing, when KUWTK concludes in 2021, the family will have 20 seasons completed. In contrast, The Simple Life ran for just five seasons. Nevertheless, in 2020, Kim told David Letterman that she can make more money from one Instagram post than from shooting a whole season of KUWTK, so Paris isn't off-base with her comment. 

However, the Kardashian/Jenner family members chose to cancel KUWTKThe Simple Life got canceled by Fox and E!, which is the same network that broadcasts KUWTK. Oh, the irony. 

Kim Kardashian used to work for Paris Hilton

There are many listicles about Kim Kardashian being Paris Hilton's "assistant" and Paris "bossing Kim around." As funny as that narrative is, that's not how it was, according to Kim, anyway. On a 2017 episode of Watch What Happens Live, Kim said, "People will say 'assistant.' They always have it wrong." She clarified, "I would work with Paris, and I would love to organize and clean out their closets and get rid of all their stuff and sell it on eBay and then shop for them, shop for her."

In 2014, Kim told Recode that Paris was "one of [her] clients" when she had an "eBay closet organizing company." Even if Kim wasn't technically an assistant, she did work for/with Paris at the peak of her fame. In fact, Kim's first E! interview in 2006 centered around her business and her appearances on The Simple Life. In addition to mentioning Paris in her list of clients, Kim spoke her reality TV success into existence, sharing, "I would totally do a show. You know, I really want to do some kind of show that shows my life and what I do. And my closet stuff."

Viewers never got to see the "closet stuff," but that business, and famous customers, like Paris, definitely helped Kim secure that reality TV gig. Consequently, Keeping Up With the Kardashians served as a launching pad for the successful empire Kim is still growing today.

Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton had different voices early in their careers

In a 2011 ABC News interview, Paris Hilton claimed that The Simple Life producers "wanted someone who was an airhead and kind of had the baby voice. So, that's a character that I had to do and continued to do for five seasons." 

Paris shared, "I can either talk in like my normal voice, or sometimes I talk in like a baby voice when I'm like shy or doing a TV show" during a 2013 Fuse interview. She admitted, "I didn't realize [The Simple Life] would have to last for five years, so I had to continue doing this character," which continued beyond the reality show.

Kim Kardashian has never copped to putting on a fake voice, but she has commented on how her voice has "changed." In 2017, Kim tweeted, "I'm so confused how our voices have changed. I miss my 2007 voice lol." When Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a clip from their first interview together, Kim replied, "I'm really baffled how my voice has changed so much!" 

While Paris' "baby voice" comes and goes, Kim has left hers behind. Whether it was intentional or not, Kim is taken a lot more seriously these days, sans baby voice. Then again, she does have an increasingly impressive resumé as a law student/prison reform advocate/entrepreneur. Nevertheless, it's hard not to wonder if she adapted Paris' "baby voice" strategy at the start of her career and shifted as her interests changed.

Kim Kardashian has 'copied' some of Paris Hilton's career moves

In September 2018, Kim Kardashian shared a photo from a KKW Beauty campaign, where she appeared to be naked with flowers covering up some of her body parts. Two days later, Paris Hilton shared pictures of herself, seemingly naked with strategically-placed flowers. What. A. Coincidence. Paris wrote, "Love these photos I shot last year." Did Paris shade Kim by mentioning that her very similar photoshoot happened "last year," i.e., before Kim's.

That's not the only time Kim "copied" Paris. In 2018, BuzzFeed claimed that Kim "recreated" Paris' 21st birthday look by wearing a silver dress that looks just like the one the heiress rocked in 2002. In 2005, Paris starred in a Carl's Jr. commercial, where she seductively ate a burger. In 2010, Kim endorsed salads for the fast-food chain, which she also ate seductively. Why completely reinvent the wheel?

In 2004, Paris debuted her first perfume. Kim started her fragrance empire in 2009. To be fair, Paris isn't the first celeb to create perfumes. Even so, there are just so many similarities between Paris and Kim's career paths. Kim gave music a shot in 2011 with a song called "Jam (Turn It Up)." Paris has a single called "Turn It Up," which she dropped in 2006. 

At this point, Kim is blazing her own path, but she did seem to get a lot of inspiration from Paris early on in her career.

Paris Hilton claims to be the 'original influencer,' yet Kim Kardashian has more accolades from the industry

Kim Kardashian has no issues giving props when applicable, referring to Paris as "the OG" in 2018. Even so, the student has surpassed the master. Kim's continued success and relevance cannot be denied, whereas Paris is praised as a "throwback" to the early 2000s, who is less famous nowadays. Even though Paris found fame pre-social media, she views herself as the original influencer.

Paris told Cosmopolitan UK, "I was the first one to invent getting paid to party." Kim followed her lead, doing many club appearances early in her career. Paris said, "I love that I was so ahead of my time and created this entire new genre and way of living life and making a living." She stated, "I feel very proud. Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

Paris originated "being famous for being famous," but Kim revolutionized the game. In 2018, Kim won the first-ever Influencer Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Tommy Hilfiger gushed, "Kim is the most important and powerful influencer in the world. Her reach extends far beyond her own brands." He explained, "Every time she wears, posts or talks about a fashion brand, there is an immediate and significant increase in both awareness and sales." Dian von Furstenberg declared, "Kim Kardashian West has mastered the meaning of influence in the digital age." However, even Kim acknowledges that Paris "gave" her a career.

Kim Kardashian became the Paris Hilton for her family and friends

Paris Hilton launched Kim Kardashian into celebrity, and Kim has paid it forward, tenfold, if not more. Kim parlayed her notoriety into Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which made her siblings Kourtney, Khloe, and Rob Kardashian into celebrities along with her half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, who became A-listers themselves. During a Keeping Up With the Kardashians episode, Khloe thanked Kim for making their family vacation happen, which prompted Scott Disick to thank Kim for making their careers happen. In addition to sharing the reality TV spotlight with her family, Kim continues to collaborate with them on business deals. Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe have created multiple fragrance collections for Kim's company, KKW Beauty. Kim and Kylie made a perfume together too. Kim even created a scent inspired by her mother, Kris Jenner, who also earns money as Kim's momager.

Aside from turning her family into stars, Kim's inner circle has benefitted as well. Her former assistant Stephanie Shepherd has become a social media influencer with over one million Instagram followers. Kim's personal trainer Melissa Alcantara has a similar amount. Her go-to makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic had a KKW Beauty collection before launching his own line at Sephora.

In 2020, Kim pulled a Paris on Paris, inviting her to take part in an ad campaign for her clothing brand Skims, shining the spotlight back on Paris and bringing this whole journey full circle.