…Actually, that’s a great question. This is a wild idea, but I’ve thought of it before and I’m surprised we don’t do anything like this. I think that all of the public parks in America should have donation boxes at every entrance or throughout the park. These donation boxes should not be easily broken, breakable, or you should be able to not access them. And once a day or once every few days, collect all of the money from the donation boxes and they should go to both local public schools and local universities so that we improve the elementary school, middle school and high school system in America, and so that every American can have access to free college education. If I knew that every dollar I was giving was going to education, I would happily donate a lot every time I went to the park.
I had the pleasure to interview Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr., known professionally as Perez Hilton. Perez is an American blogger, columnist, and media personality. His blog, PerezHilton.com is known for posts covering gossip items about celebrities. He is also known for posting tabloid photographs over which he has added his own captions or “doodles”. His blog has garnered acclaim for its attitude and its role in the increasing coverage of celebrities in all forms of media. In addition to his blogging, Hilton has written three books, hosts a podcast with Chris Booker, runs two YouTube channels, and has acted in two off-Broadway shows. In 2018, he was dubbed “the original celebrity social media influencer” by BroadwayWorld.
Thank you so much for joining us Perez! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, I’m thrilled to chat because I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary of blogging. It’s so wild to me that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have and things have changed so much. Celebrities have come and gone, magazines have closed, platforms no longer exists, but Perez Hilton is still here.
What brought me to where I am is my whole life. It was my interests, my upbringing, luck, and really in the fall of 2004 discovering the world of blogs and saying, hey, that seems like a fun hobby.
My little hobby has now turned into a business where I do many different things. In addition to my website, I have a podcast that’s very successful. I have two YouTube channels. I’ve been doing a lot of acting recently. I’ve written three books and I am so excited to see what the future holds, and the un-known-ness of the years to come. What I do know is I will always have a career and I’m going to keep on having fun and all of the things I do.
Can you share the most interesting story that has happened to you since you started this career?
I would say the most interesting story that’s happened since I started is the explosion of social media. It’s changed everything and I love it because, A, I’m able to monetize it, I’m real honest and B, it encourages so many people out there to be creators and just to connect with others. You see so many celebrities criticizing social media, but I think it’s a very positive thing.
Like anything in life there can be darkness, but I choose to see and focus on the positive and the light.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yes. When I was first starting, I was in my mid twenties and it was the wild, wild west. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I ended up doing a lot of illegal things, which, oops, I would not encourage anybody to do. Specifically, the main thing that I did that was illegal that I did a lot, was using Paparazzi photos without permission.
Now all the Paparazzi photos we use on perezhilton.com I pay for. The lesson I learned from that is lawsuits are very expensive. Try not to get sued.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well, right now I’m working on a book proposal for my fourth book, so I am very excited about that.
I’m also just so focused on growing both my YouTube channels as well as my podcast. All of it seems to be connecting with people in a meaningful way, which makes me so happy. 15 years later, it’s definitely front of mind to continue to grow and connect with new audiences as well as reconnect with my older audience that may have lost their way or just keep my current audience happy. It’s all about diversification.
Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I would say the most interesting person I interacted with was Madonna because she is my biggest inspiration in life. My biggest icon, my biggest diva, my favorite musician. When I met her, it was such a real dream come true and she asked to meet me. She wanted to say hello to me. It was 11 years ago in 2008 and it was such validation for all of my hard work. I met her backstage before her Sticky and Sweet concert in Las Vegas. She heard I was in the audience and wanted to meet me before she went on. It was wild.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not burn out?
Well as I sip some coffee right now, I say it’s important to stay extremely well caffeinated, because if you want to be incredibly successful, you’re not going to get a lot of sleep. 15 years later, I still work 12, 13 hours a day. I am not exaggerating. I really work that much.
My advice to them to thrive is it’s all about the effort. I’m old school. I believe hard work pays off. You don’t, you can’t, just work hard. You have to work harder than everybody else and that means things will sacrifice. Things will suffer. You have to sacrifice if you want to flourish professionally.
And I say that that’s true of everything in life.
If your health and your fitness wants to flourish, you have to put in the effort.
If your family life wants to flourish, you have to put in the effort.
If your relationships want to flourish, you have to put in the effort.
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what idea you can trigger.
Actually, that’s a great question. This is a wild idea, but I’ve thought of it before and I’m surprised we don’t do anything like this. I think that all of the public parks in America should have donation boxes at every entrance or throughout the park. These donation boxes should not be easily broken, breakable, or you should be able to not access them. And once a day or once every few days, collect all of the money from the donation boxes and they should go to both local public schools and local universities so that we improve the elementary school, middle school and high school system in America, and so that every American can have access to free college education.
If I knew that every dollar I was giving was going to education, I would happily donate a lot every time I went to the park.
What are your “five things, I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
- Invest wisely. You think you’re always going to be making as much money as you are now and that may not always be the case.
- Number two, invest more.
- Number three, invest in real estate.
- Number four, live below your means.
- And number five, listen to your gut over other people.
Can you please give us your favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I guess it goes back to, my senior year in high school quote, which I still find extremely relevant and that is,
“if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger”.
Another similar quote that I love is
“it’s not happening to you, it’s happening for you”.
I do believe we have choices in life, choices about how we respond to things. I suffered tragedy at a young age. My father passed away when I was just 14. A week after, my grandfather died, who lived with us. Some people could have turned to darkness, drugs, depression, but I chose the opposite in life. That’s always been a great reminder to me that life is precious and short and to seize the day.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you get to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes. I am so grateful to my mother for many reasons.
One, she and my dad sacrificed to send me to a private school in Miami, the best one, an all boys private school. They didn’t have a fancy car. We didn’t go on fancy vacations because my parents wanted to provide me and my sister with the best education possible. They instilled in me this incredible work ethic, which has gotten me everywhere in life.
Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, sports, entertainment, reading this column, is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with and why he or she might see this?
Well, I would love to have breakfast, lunch, or tea with Jeff Bezos. First, he is half Cuban, his father is Cuban, and I am Cuban and I’m such an Amazon fan and, and everything that they do. I’m such a fan of Jeff Bezos and everything that he does outside of Amazon. I think he’s such an innovator. Also I am down to partner with him on various projects or heck, if the price is right, sell my website.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Well,Of course, read perezhilton.com daily, and then follow us everywhere.
The website has their own social media @Perez Hilton and I have my own social media too, where I post different kinds of content, including my personal life, my family and fitness and inspiration and funny things. So it’s @PerezHilton and @THEPerez Hilton. We’re everywhere. Facebook, YouTube, tumbler, Twitter, snapchat, Instagram,
Thank you so much for these fantastic stories and insights, Perez
Thank you. Bye.