it wasn't that the paradis family was completely unknown to the world. it's just that the world didn't care. after all, there were rich people all over the place and plenty of them weren't doing anything interesting - while of course, plenty others were, and that took priority. they weren't famous the way the barrymores or even the kennedys were. they didn't make movies or win elections or do anything to draw the attention of the masses. they were just there, being rich, having their names on buildings all over the world. so what? and while sure, their children got drunk and arrested, so did other children everywhere. some of those other children didn't even come from famous families. it didn't take being special to be a drunken mess. it didn't require front page tabloid coverage when the same old thing was happening every night.
only in 2004 with the leaking of a sex tape did the world sit up and take notice.
suddenly the paradis children were everywhere. naturally, the brunt of the attention went to the star of said tape, but there were also brothers and sisters and oh god, the cousins. the family was a tabloid editor's dream: young and attractive and hungry for attention, and shameless to boot. if they had relationships before, they had relationships with more famous people and had breakups where photographers could witness the whole thing. if they were getting arrested before, they were getting arrested for more and more outrageous pranks and misdemeanors. if they weren't getting enough attention before, no one could say that about them now - except maybe some of the more ambitious of the clan.
maybe "ambitious" was the wrong word to use for little nicolette, who had just started high school but had already dethroned the senior queen bee before even turning in her first paper. it wasn't that she had any dreams of oscar glory or hell, even a nobel peace prize after using her fame as a platform to bring attention to more important issues in the world. (after all, what was more important than her own vanity?) she didn't want to do anything, exactly. she just wanted to be famous. she wanted to do exactly what she was doing, living her life and going to parties and sleeping with all the so-wrong-it's-right people, and have the whole damn world give a shit about it. because they should. because she was important. was that really so much to ask?
nicole grew up idolizing her older siblings and cousins and their reckless, fearless lives, which seemed glamorous even to her. she was granted an early start as most of them didn't think twice about letting a fourteen-year-old tag along, and most of the bouncers didn't either, not after a flash of the last name on their clearly fake ids and/or one of the older girls' breasts. the constant blare of the cameras in her face was as addictive a high as any of the substances she dabbled in in the bathrooms (like the classy society girl she was), and by the time sophomore year rolled around, nicole was regularly showing up hungover to the classes she bothered showing up to at all. whether her parents were in denial, honestly never noticed, or just didn't care until then was debatable, but they couldn't ignore the expulsion notice that their personal assistant hand-delivered to them one morning, as requested by the school's headmaster. but by then it was too late. after a string of more schools, other schools, reform schools, boarding schools, it was clear that nicole wasn't going to give up her life just to sit through calculus without falling asleep in the morning. and who would? nicole's parents weren't cruel, and they didn't have the heart to turn out their baby girl without any charge cards as any set of rational adults might. they had spoiled the monster, after all. nicole got her ged, so at least her school problems would be settled for now. now, they just had to wait for her to grow up.
as it was, they'd have to wait for a long time. while staying in school wasn't doing anyone any favors, getting out of school didn't exactly inspire her to turn to the path of righteousness either. now she had all the more reason to party all night and sleep all day, with the exception of half-hungover shopping excursions and the occasional photo shoot. but while living her dream hadn't become boring, exactly, it'd gotten routine. monotonous. the same old thing, the same old people, and that wasn't going to keep people interested for much longer, was it? she needed to do something bigger. she needed to do something more. she needed to do something.
and when she noticed all the photographers lurking around the set she visited when a friend was shooting a movie in town, well. wasn't the answer obvious?
no one was in danger of thinking nicole had any aspirations of becoming a great dramatic actress, least of all nicole herself. it was calculated. it was obvious. almost embarrassingly so, in fact. but it seemed the natural next move. people already knew her. clearly they wanted to see more. although her initial campaign to get cast as rosalie hale in the film adaptation of twilight proved unsuccessful, she did land a role in 2009's bandslam, the plot to which she probably still couldn't tell you. but there were still cameras in her face. that felt good. that felt right. and to her surprise, it almost felt sort of natural.
2010 followed with more bit parts in teen flicks, leading to her first starring role in 2011's scream 4, all about celebrity and neoptism and becoming famous for all the wrong reasons, because apparently meta was in. but despite what was supposed to be a star-making turn in what would surely soon be a cult classic, 2012 largely proved a disappointment, with even spring breakers bring largely eclipsed by its thematic twin, the bling ring. and while she wasn't nearly as terrible an actress as everyone had assumed she'd be, while some argued she even showed signs of real talent every once in a while in her roles, while acting was something she found she sort of liked doing and wanted to continue with for as long as she could or got bored with it, nothing else had really changed. she was still getting wasted every night, still more interested in photo ops and promances than any real human connection. reports of her being a nightmare to work with were spreading, and while she had her defenders who tried to make excuses for her, calling her young and inexperienced and still figuring her stuff out, how long could that really save her? ten jobs since her film debut and nicole was still showing up late and mouthing off to more established costars, making enemies with every sullen eyeroll and stolen boyfriend. what was worse, the public largely seemed over her. she hadn't done enough as an actress to firmly establish herself in the performer camp, and well, there were always younger, newer, hungrier children of famous people needing to be seen.
following a spectacularly publicized split with her agent, followed shortly by the revelation that her much older, much married manager was leaving his pregnant wife and their four children for her (for the record, she wasn't even interested - so she claimed), nicole found herself being shunned from audition rooms and vip club rooms alike - and for once, she didn't know which was worse. faced with the prospect of never working again, she suddenly realized that she had managed to care about something after all. she hired a brand new team, started doing psas for charities and feminist organizations, and if she didn't swear off all the binging and the party, well, she at least kept it together enough to stay out of the drunk tank. while her self-reinvention got off to a shaky start with the gangster squad serving as her initiation into grown-up films (if you didn't count magic mike, which she didn't), she landed a role about as tailor-made for her as jill roberts had been: sam thomson, a former junkie trying to go good and failing, who got to make overwrought speeches about celebrity and relevance. she hadn't been expecting the oscar nomination - had anyone? - but it felt like validation. she had made her comeback, more or less. and even if she kept making bad movies and dumb choices, she was at least trying. that was at least obvious.
as a matter of fact, nicole's been taking a more proactive approach to her career than ever. despite the universal panning of suicide squad, she signed on to produce a harley quinn spin-off, unwilling to let go of the dream role she'd fought so hard to get to play. she chose projects that would enable her to work with actors and directors and writers she liked and thought maybe she could get something out of, even if she knew it wasn't likely to get her any more awards. and if she didn't ever get any more awards, did it really matter? didn't she have enough gold-plated home furnishings than she knew what to do with, anyway? for someone who's finally figured out what she wants to do with the rest of her life and is willing to put in the work for it, ambition still isn't quite the right word to describe nicole. she's just trying to strike that balance of being both interesting and tolerable enough to keep getting jobs... without having to completely swear off tequila.