05 August 2013, 14:22
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Trying to Keep Up With Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian came upon the gossip circuit as a member of a famous and well-connected family. She soon distanced herself from that image and began to reinvent herself. The 27 year old Armenian-American first came onto the Hollywood radar as a close friend of the socialite Paris Hilton, but very quickly learned to play her own fame game.

Kim Kardashian burst onto the Hollywood social scene like a storm. Unlike many who only manage to scrape away with their 15 minutes of fame, she has been able to brand her image in such a business savvy manner that the limelight is far from fading. She is the daughter of the famed OJ Simpson attorney, Robert Kardashian, who passed away in 2003. Kim appeared on the first episode of Paris Hilton's reality show “The Simple Life” in 2003. However, she was still not well known outside of the Hollywood social circuit until a sex tape emerged on the Internet of her and her former boyfriend, R&B singer, Ray J. Kim's voluptuous good looks, in addition to the controversy surrounding her denial of the existence of the infamous tape, and then subsequent release featuring her coupling with Ray J, catapulted her to instant celebrity status. Public interest in Kim lead to her own reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, which debuted on the E! Network in 2007. According to Nielsons Media Rating, the show was the highest rated series on Sunday nights among women 18- 34 years old. The show follows the lives of the Kardashian family with Kim as the main focus of the series. The premiere of the second season attracted 1.4 million viewers and Kim has signed on for a third season of her reality show. The desire to extend her celebrity status does not stop there. Kim was featured on the cover of the December 2007 issue of Playboy w ith a twelve-page spread, one of the largest the magazine has had. The Armenian- American beauty is also testing the waters with a career in acting with a new comedy film, Disaster Movie, which hit theaters August 29. Her good looks, connections and smart industry decisions have kept her in the limelight. Needless to say, Kim's businesses, the two boutiques she co-owns outside of L.A., DASH and Smooch, are attracting large numbers of customers. Kim is famous today not only for being a well-connected socialite or a sex symbol but because she is a savvy business women who understand the delicate game of keeping the public interested.

You have created a successful public persona, but who is the real Kim Kardashian? 
I am such a family girl. I think, that became evident when I did the show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, and I think that’s kind of a big reason why I wanted to do the show because I think people thought of me as this wild party girl and, you know, there is the stereotype of Hollywood girls, that we just party all night and shop all day and we don’t really do anything. And I wanted to do the show because I wanted to show who I really am instead of what people make up about me. I think the show does a good job of showing me and my sisters, we get up everyday, we go to our store, we have a whole bunch of stuff going on but at the end of the day we are as close as ever with our family and you know family is at the basis of everything. That’s a huge part of my life. Whether it’s making new friends or dating someone, my sisters get to give their approval. So I definitely implement family in pretty much everything that I do.

What are you most passionate about, what inspires you? 
Fashion! I love fashion, that’s pretty much my life. My sisters and I are so lucky that we have a clothing store and our job basically has been running the store and now we have the online store and this year we’re hoping to start designing. I worked in my dad’s office for seven years, in his music company called Movie Tunes, it was great and it was fun and amazing but we would always go back to the fashion stuff.

Who is your greatest inspiration in life? 
I definitely say my dad. He raised us very strict, very Christian. I can’t even really explain how amazing he was at raising us. He was strict but he was so much fun. Obviously, my mom was the more lenient parent. But I only wish that I can raise my kids like my dad raised me because it was just the best childhood. I had the best upbringing.

What were your childhood dreams? Did you ever imagine you would be so famous? 
Not at all. To be honest with you my dreams were to just get married and have a family. That really had nothing to do with this life but it just happened and I love it and I’m having so much fun. But I never imagined it at all.

It takes a lot of work to keep the public interested and you have managed to do this very successfully. You have a successful show on E! Network. How do you deal with life in the limelight? 
Because I have my family and we’re so honest with each other, I think if any of us started to get a big head or anything like that, I mean clearly we all have our little diva moments, but it is shut down so fast in my family. Because there is just so many of us we don’t have time for all the egos and all that. I am so grounded because of my family. It is because of them that I personally have not gotten into drinking and not gotten too crazy over the deep end. It is totally due to my family.

How do you deal with gossip and tabloids since there is so much out there about you? 
Gosh, at first it was really hard for me. I’m not going to lie to you; it was really tough because I would think that people just believed everything that’s being said. I was like, no this isn’t true and I never dated this person and how could they say that and they are making me have a bad reputation. But you know, I kind of just have to say, you know what, it’s never going to stop, this is now my life and I have to suck it up and deal with it. And that’s basically it. Obviously there are certain things that you can do; you can’t give them too much to talk about. If I’m out partying every night of course they are going to say something, you know. So you have to grow a thick skin and I have definitely learned that.

What do you envision next in your career? Are you thinking about going into acting or further modeling?
Definitely. I just finished my first film, it’s called Disaster Zone and it comes out Labor Day weekend. I’ve been promoting that all over the place. I went into that really nervous, thinking, I don’t know if this is really for me, I really want to do a good job if I do this, and I fell in love with acting. I love it. So I definitely want to start acting a little bit more and doing more high fashion modeling, that’s what my photo shoot is about today. To me success is when you start a family and I just love how I was raised. I loved my childhood and I only wish that I can have the same when I start a family and provide that for my kids.

You have been dating Reggie Bush, the NFL player, for a while now. What’s up in your personal life, marriage, children? Any movement in that direction?
When you spend a lot of time with someone you definitely talk about it and think about it. But I think right now I’m just focusing on my career, we just got picked up for a third season for my show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and he is in season three of the NFL. So we’re just kind of focusing real hard on that this year, but I don’t know. It’s something that we talk about and want to get to, but we need a little time.

Many models dream about getting on the cover of Playboy. Were you interested in being in Playboy before you became famous?
No, I actual ly thought that ’s something I wouldn’t do. I met with Hugh Hefner and he told me everyone that has been on the cover. And when he told me Marilyn Monroe, who I love, was on the first cover and she was on it six or seven times, and I was just like, you know what, I might never be asked again. I have, what I think, is a very healthy body image. I’m more curvy than most in the business, I definitely have the Armenian curves, and why not have control over an amazing photo shoot and show people the way I want to be seen.

You are the first women of Armenian heritage to be on the cover of Playboy. How was that experience and how has it affected your career?
I didn’t know how big it was going to be. My mom told me everyone will see it, even girls go buy Playboy just to look at the cover to find the little bunny on the cover. It really has changed my life and I’m just really happy that I get all these e-mails and letters from these Armenian girls that say, “we’ve never seen an Armenian on the cover.” It's so gratifying to me. And I know that my dad would be so proud that I am representing the Armenian culture. I remember my dad told me that a lot of Armenians when they move to America will change their last names, they’ll take off the “ian” and he told me, “don’t you ever do that” and he thought it was really wrong. I would never do that, it wasn’t even a thought process.

You have said that your late father instilled in you a lot of Armenian culture. Tell us a little about your father and your Armenian heritage.
Me and my sisters are fourth generation here so we didn’t grow up speaking Armenian but when we were in high school there was this Armenian school on the corner and my dad used to always say that he wished that we went there and that we spoke Armenian. We are only half Armenian and my grandparents didn’t really speak Armenian. We kind of regret it now, that we didn’t speak Armenian, but we ate a lot of Armenian food. What my dad liked to do was always get together with the family, his brother and sister, their kids, my grandparents, and we would only eat Armenian food. We would go to the Armenian restaurant every Sunday. There were just little things that my dad wanted to instill in us to make us proud to be Armenian. Growing up, I grew up in Beverly Hills, I had no Armenian friends, except for all my cousins, we knew some Armenian words but no one really knew what Armenian was in that area back then. A lot of people didn’t know what I was, they would ask me if I was Spanish, Italian, Persian, no one really could quite figure it out until I would say I’m Armenian. Even when I first started becoming known in the business people would always ask me what nationality I was, no one knew, they would guess a whole bunch of different things. It was pretty cool to put Armenia out there like that.

Food is a very powerful form of cultural expression and for Armenians this is certainly the case. Which Armenian dish is your favorite and do you know how to make any of them?
Well I’m really simple, I love to just take frozen lamajun and put it in the oven. I love lavash and Armenian string cheese, just really simple stuff. But my grandmother, she would make the dish called Beshy, and not a lot of Armenians have heard of it. I swear to you I’ve asked like everyone I know because its my favorite Armenian dish. It is basically like an Armenian pancake, its thin like a crepe but its fried. It is really crispy, you put sugar or syrup all over it. I had it on my website because I wanted to know who else knows what this is because half the Armenians I talk to have no idea what this dish is but my whole family grew up eating it. My grandmother was Russian Armenian so we think the dish may have come a little bit more from the Russian side. Some Armenians do know the dish others have never heard of it.

How has your Armenian heritage shaped who you are and your world view?
Growing up it has made me feel like I have something special. Even in my faith, I’m Christian, I feel like I have something special that I personally can hold to my heart. It has made me just have that wholesome sense of family that is so important to me. It has made me feel more worldly, Its given me an understanding of other places in the world and that these places have issues going on. My great grandparents escaped the Genocide; this gave me a different perspective of the world. I just felt like I belonged to something bigger and I had this whole part of my family that understood where I was coming from, when kids at school didn’t know. I was a little bit darker than the other kids at school, and like I said, at the time no one really knew what Armenia was. They always thought I was just the Spanish girl, and I always had to explain that I was Armenian and what that was. I felt like I had this cool understanding of the world that I thought, at the time, no one else really understood.

When you have children do you intend to give them that part of your culture?
Of course. Its funny, I say I’m Armenian when I’m only half Armenian. For some reason I don’t really say I’m Armenian-American, which I probably should. When I think about it I say definitely, my kids are going to be Armenian, they have to know what that is and what its about. My dad wouldn’t have it any other way, so I definitely have to make him proud.

You have written on your blog that you and your sisters and brother decided it is mandatory to go to Armenia. What lead you to that decision?
Because my dad always wanted to go, he had never been to Armenia. We want to do things that he wanted to do but didn’t have the chance, and now we have the opportunity to do it. We would like to bring our show there but we don’t know if it's going to work this time. We’ll probably wait until next spring.

What do you expect to gain from a trip to Armenia?
I think it will be something that we can’t even imagine. I think when we get there we will feel really proud to be Armenian and we’ll learn the culture and try the food, and maybe its really different from the way we make it at home.

Is there anything that you think that Armenian fans don’t know about you that you would like them to know?
Just that I am probably a lot more normal than people think. They see this life and think it’s a lot crazier than it really is. I’m loving my life and I’m having such a good time, I really am, but I’m totally normal and I have problems and make mistakes like everyone else and I have fun and I love to hang out with my friends just like everyone else. It's important to just have a good head on your shoulders and stay close to your family.

Yerevan Magazine, Winter, N3, 2008

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