The actress says she was an "easy target" and felt she was on "attack"
Tara Reid is rejecting the "bad girl image" she was branded with in her rise to fame.
The actress, 47, did an interview with her longtime friend Derek Warburton for Mr. Warburton Magazine, recalling how tabloid attention derailed her career when she "never did anything wrong."
Reid pointed out she's "never been to jail" while expressing frustration with negative media scrutiny, and she joked that she was the "godmother" of a type of celebrity attention that stars like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton eventually dealt with.
"I was the first one that started this image. The difference is I never did sex tapes. I never did anything wrong — I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket," said Reid. "But what I did get punished for, if I wasn’t at work and I wasn't shooting, I went to Europe right away. I’d be popping bottles, and having a great time. But who doesn't do that?"
"I was just on an attack," she later added of what she deemed unfair treatment in the U.S. public eye. "Anything I did was on tape, it was pretty awful. And that’s why I left. It wasn’t because I was just a girl. It was because I was an easy target. I didn't have the money like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian [who] had the greatest lawyers in the world. If you try to sue them, you're gonna get crushed. So what are you gonna do? You gotta go away for a little while."
"I'm still here now. I’m at the second coming of my age, and I’ve never been happier," she concluded. "... If I didn’t get checked and get hurt and realize what was going on, I would never be the girl sitting here."
"I learned my privacy, I learned who’s my friend, who I need to keep around me, and who I love."
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Reid, who began acting at age 6, had one of her first breaks on TV in 1995 on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives. She rose to movie-star status with 1999's American Pie and its subsequent sequels.
"In my American Pie days, everyone was kissing my butt. I didn't realize how good I had it," the actress told PEOPLE back in 2008. "But the second things go down, no one cares. See who visits you in the hospital when you're sick. I've become more humble."
She also said in 2008, "I’ve been a media target for years now. It does hurt my feelings, but what can I do? I have to move on."
Around the time of her Sharknado resurgence, Reid told Time about her reputation in the industry, explaining there's a side to her that "no one gets."
“Over the years, I’ve built a reputation that isn’t what a movie star is supposed to be like — the way the American media portrays it. They made a character of me that’s not even true," she said at the time. "There’s a whole side of me that no one gets. No one knows that side about me, but nobody wants to know that side of me. Even if they do know about it, no one wants to write about it."
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