Being locked in a cell was a “traumatic experience” and something she never expected after driving with a suspended license, a subdued Paris Hilton told CNN’s Larry King on Wednesday.
Excerpts of the interview, to be broadcast at 9 p.m. EDT, were posted an hour early on the celebrity Web site TMZ.com and later aired on CNN before the show. They show a soft-spoken Hilton dressed in white lace as she sits across from King.
“I’ve been through a lot,” said Hilton, her blond hair cascading across her forehead. “And it was a pretty traumatic experience, something that I really have grown from.”
Asked why she was going public about her experience, she told King, “I just want to let people know what I went through.” It was her first broadcast interview since being released.
She added that going to jail was the last thing she expected when Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer ordered her to his court in May for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless-driving case.
“I was walking in there assuming I was just going to get community service,” Hilton said. “That’s what my lawyer said at the time. So when he sentenced me to that much time in jail it was shocking because that doesn’t happen, ever.
“It wasn’t for DUI, it was for suspended license,” she said of her case.
Hilton also told King she thought the experience had changed her for the better.
“I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason,” she said. “And it gave me, you know, a time-out in life just to really find out what is important and what I want to do, figure out who I am. And even though it was really hard, I took that time just to get to know myself.”
She called her release from jail shortly after midnight Tuesday “one of the happiest days of my life.”
“It’s hard to even describe. It was so exciting,” she said of walking past a gauntlet of reporters and photographers to an SUV where her mother and father were waiting for her.
“It was just pandemonium, and then as soon as I saw my mom I just ran to her to go give her a hug.”
The messy ponytail and makeup-free face Hilton displayed when she left the Century Regional Detention Facility Tuesday were replaced Wednesday with loose, re-blonded locks and camera-ready blue eye-shadow and pink lipstick.
She faced another gauntlet when she arrived at CNN’s Los Angeles studios, with paparazzi shouting, “Paris, we love you” and asking her what she had learned in jail.
Hilton, wearing oversized, white-framed sunglasses, didn’t reply but waved demurely to the crowd before turning and walking into the studio.
After leaving jail Hilton went to her grandparents’ Holmby Hills mansion where she stayed holed up Tuesday preparing for Wednesday’s appearance.
Her path to jail began Sept. 7, when she failed a sobriety test after police saw her weaving down a street in her Mercedes-Benz. Hilton, who said she was hungry and on the way to get a hamburger, pleaded no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving and was sentenced to probation for three years.
In the months that followed she was stopped twice by officers who discovered her driving with a suspended license. The second stop landed her in court and then in jail.
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