Wavo, Texas, U.S.A.
October 3, 1984
Ashlee Simpson Næss (born Ashlee Nicolle Simpson) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. The younger sister of Jessica Simpson, she rose to prominence as a participant in her sister's reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, and starred in the spin-off program The Ashlee Simpson Show which portrayed her creating her debut album, Autobiography (2004). That album, and its follow-up I Am Me (2005), reached the top of the album chart. Her third album Bittersweet World (2008), debuted at number four on the album charts.
Early life and career beginningsEdit
Ashlee Nicolle Simpson was born on October 3, 1984, in Waco, Texas, and was raised in Richardson. She is the daughter of Tina Ann (née Drew), a homemaker, and Joe Truett Simpson, a former psychologist and Baptist youth minister who works as Simpson's agent. She has an older sister, Jessica Simpson. Her parents were married in 1978 and filed for divorce in 2012. Their divorce was finalized in 2013. She attended the same schools as her sister: Prairie Creek Elementary and Richardson North Junior High.
In 1987, when Simpson was three years old, she began studying classical ballet. Simpson enrolled at the School of American Ballet in New York City in 1995, a year in advance, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to the school. During this time, Simpson suffered from an eating disorder for about six months but received treatment from her parents. Her parents made the decision to relocate to Los Angeles, California for Jessica's singing career in 1999. Subsequently, Simpson was cast in television commercials.
Following the success of her sister Jessica's first album, Ashlee became one of her backup dancers. Changing her first name's spelling to Ashlee for the stage, she recorded a song titled "Christmas Past, Present and Future" in 2002 for the holiday album School's Out! Christmas, which was later re-released on Radio Disney Jingle Jams in 2004 and 2005. In the summer of 2003, she released a song called "Just Let Me Cry" for the soundtrack to the film Freaky Friday. After her appearances on the School's Out! Christmas and Freaky Friday albums, Simpson signed a record deal with Geffen Records. Her first album, Autobiography, debuted at number one in the United States in July 2004, with first-week sales of around 398,000 copies. The album was certified triple-platinum by the RIAA in September 2004. Simpson co-wrote all of the album's tracks, describing it as "very true to my emotions"; however, critical reviews were mixed. Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Relic characterised the album as a "mundane melange of Avril-ish brat pop and Sheryl Crow cod rock." The single which preceded the album, "Pieces of Me", was one of the biggest hits of the summer in the United States, and was certified gold by the RIAA. The follow-up singles, "Shadow" and "La La", were less successful, although the latter became an RIAA-certified gold seller. At the Teen Choice Awards on August 8, 2004, Simpson received the "Song of the Summer" Teen Choice Award for "Pieces of Me", as well as the "Fresh Face" Award. She also won the Billboard Award for New Female Artist of the Year in December, and in the same month, Entertainment Weekly named her one of its Breakout Stars of 2004.
Simpson's first North American tour ran from mid-February to late April 2005. The tour was described as "stripped down" without pyrotechnics. As well as material from Autobiography, Simpson performed her own unreleased song "Hollywood", The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket", Blondie's "Call Me" and Madonna's "Burning Up".
2005–06: I Am MeEdit
Simpson's second album, I Am Me, was released on October 18, 2005. She wanted to incorporate the feel of music from the 1980s on the album, and unlike with her debut, she wanted to focus less on relationships and more on herself. The album debuted at number-one, selling around 220,000 copies in its first week; as of 2008, it had sold 944,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its lead single, "Boyfriend", became a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 while Simpson's next two singles, "L.O.V.E." and "Invisible" (a track not featured on the album), reached the top 40. Simpson began a concert tour in late September in Portland, Oregon and appeared on the October 8, 2005 episode of SNL to promote the album. The first song she performed on the show was "Catch Me When I Fall", a ballad written about her previous SNL experience, and she thanked the crowd after her second performance. In mid-December, Simpson collapsed after performing in Japan, and was briefly hospitalized, consequently cancelling an appearance at the Radio Music Awards. The collapse and her subsequent hospitalization were attributed to exhaustion as a result of her busy work schedule.
In March 2006, Simpson won an MTV celebrity surfing invitational competition, which also featured celebrities such as Meagan Good, Jack Osbourne, Ashley Parker Angel and Tony Hawk. On April 12, 2006, she hosted and performed at the MTV Australia Video Music Awards, where she won "Best Female Artist" and "Best Pop Video" for the single "Boyfriend". She began a summer tour on June 5, 2006, with Ashley Parker Angel as the opening act.
2007–10: Bittersweet WorldEdit
During 2007, Simpson recorded her third studio album, Bittersweet World with producers Timbaland, Kenna, and Chad Hugo. She described the album as being influenced by 1980s music—bearing similarities with I Am Me—while still incorporating elements of rock and pop and described her intention to go on tour to support the album. Geffen Records chairman Ron Fair said in December 2006 that working on Simpson's next album would be "very tricky" because of press scrutiny and "prejudices", but that Geffen would work with her to overcome that, "because she deserves to be heard and she deserves a shot." Bittersweet World was released in the United States on April 22, 2008 to mixed reviews. The album's first single, the Timbaland-produced "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)", was released as a digital download in December 2007, but failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, "Little Miss Obsessive", was released in March 2008 and performed marginally better, reaching number 96 on the Hot 100. Bittersweet World has sold 126,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making it her lowest-selling album of her career.
In an interview in 2011, Simpson stated that she was working on a fourth album that would have a "folk feel". As of 2015, she has not released any new music except for a single, "Bat for a Heart," and its accompanying video.
The official website for her music had ceased updates shortly after the release of her last album. It then went offline with an error before the domain name finally expired and has now gone up for sale.
Saturday Night Live lip syncing incidentEdit
Simpson appeared as a musical guest on the October 23, 2004 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live, where she was scheduled to perform two songs: first, "Pieces of Me" (which was performed without incident) and, later, "Autobiography". As the performance of "Autobiography" was to begin, the vocals for "Pieces of Me" were heard again before Simpson had the microphone to her mouth. After looking back in the direction of her drummer, she began to do an impromptu jig as her band transitioned into playing "Pieces of Me" again. Once she realized she had been caught lip syncing, she exited the stage in embarrassment. With Simpson offstage, the band continued their "Pieces of Me" instrumental for around 30 seconds before SNL cut to commercial. During the closing of the show, Simpson appeared with the guest host, Jude Law, and said, "I feel so bad! My band started playing the wrong song, and I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoedown." On October 25, Simpson called in to the music video show Total Request Live and provided a different explanation, saying that, because of complications arising from severe acid reflux disease, she had lost her voice and been advised not to sing by her doctor. She said that her father wanted her to use a vocal guide track for the performance. During the performance, her drummer hit the wrong button, which caused the wrong track to be played. Simpson said of the incident, "I made a complete fool of myself." Simpson returned as Saturday Night Live 's musical guest the following year on October 8, 2005, where she performed without incident.
Film and acting careerEdit
Simpson first started by making appearances in films and television series, including Malcolm in the Middle (2001), a minor role in The Hot Chick (2002), and a recurring role on the family drama series 7th Heaven (2002, 2003, and 2004). In the summer of 2003, she worked as a VJ for MTV. Occasionally, Simpson appeared on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, a reality show documenting the married life of her sister Jessica and her then-husband, Nick Lachey.
In 2004, Simpson had a supporting role as an aspiring actress named Clea in Undiscovered. While her performance was met with indifference, the film itself was panned by critics and failed to reach the top 10 in its opening weekend,[ earning just $676,048 during its theatrical run. Her performance in the film earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.
In 2006, Simpson was cast as Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago from September 25 to October 28, 2006. She received mostly positive reviews. Her performance in the show was described as "dazzling and near flawless."
In 2009, Simpson returned full-time to television episodes by playing the role of Violet Foster in Melrose Place, the CW's revamp of the 1990s series of the same name. She was originally signed to the show as a regular, but producers and CWexecutives decided to write out her character. Simpson left the show after 12 episodes and stated that she had known all along that her character would leave the show once the murder mystery storyline had concluded. After her departure from Melrose Place, Simpson reprised her role in the Broadway musical production of Chicago. She began her Broadway run on November 30, 2009 and performed in New York for eight shows a week until February 7, 2010.
In June 2012, it was announced that Simpson was filming Pawn Shop Chronicles in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a comedy movie set for release in 2013.
The Ashlee Simpson ShowEdit
As an accompaniment to her debut album, Autobiography, and to create interest in the beginning of her own music career, she filmed and appeared on her own reality television series, The Ashlee Simpson Show, which aired in the time slot following Newlyweds. It ran in the United States for eight weekly episodes over the summer of 2004 (a second season of 10 episodes aired from January to March 2005). The show dealt with the processes of writing, recording and performing Simpson's music, as well as aspects of her personal life.
In 2006, Simpson began dating Fall Out Boy bassist and songwriter Pete Wentz. In February 2008, Simpson began wearing a diamond ring. She later explained that it was a promise ring from Wentz. In April 2008, Simpson and Wentz confirmed their engagement, and they wed on May 17, 2008 at Simpson's parents' residence in Encino, California, with her father officiating the ceremony. She changed her surname from Simpson to Wentz, and during the marriage was known professionally as Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Two weeks after the wedding, Simpson announced her pregnancy, and she gave birth to their son, Bronx Mowgli, in November 2008. On February 9, 2011, Simpson filed for divorce from Wentz, citing irreconcilable differences, and asked that her maiden name be restored. The divorce was finalized on November 22, 2011.
Simpson was in a relationship with actor Vincent Piazza from June 2011 to November 2012.
In July 2013, it was reported that Simpson had begun dating actor Evan Ross, son of singer Diana Ross. Simpson and Ross became engaged in January 2014, and married on August 30, 2014, at Diana Ross's estate in Connecticut. In December 2014, they announced that they are expecting their first child together. In July 2015, Simpson gave birth to her second child, a daughter, Jagger Snow. The same month, Simpson and her husband filed requests to change their surname to Ross-Næss. Næss is her husband's original legal surname (from his father, businessman Arne Næss, Jr.), while Ross is his mother's surname.
Musical influences and public imageEdit
When Simpson first broke onto the music scene in 2004, she was set apart from her sister's already established image due to a different music style, different fashion choices, and a more assertive personality. Simpson's songs have been characterized by rock elements absent from her sister's music, and, particularly during her early career, Simpson would often wear outfits highlighting a rock or punk-influenced sense of style. She cites her childhood as being the time when she began to sing, and admits that she dreamed of being on Broadway and did not expect to break into the pop music scene. She trains with a vocal coach, and studies Etta James and Aretha Franklin albums for vocal inspiration. She has cited Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Joan Jett, The Runaways, Madonna, Pat Benatar, Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, and Debbie Harry from Blondie as her musical influences.
Simpson had a nose job in April 2006. In the May 2007 issue of Harper's Bazaar, she said that she was not insecure about her appearance and had not been beforehand. She said that plastic surgery was a "personal choice" that one should only decide to do for oneself and not for others. In a September 2007 interview, her father, Joe Simpson said of the surgery: "There was a real problem with her breathing and that was cured." In mid-2006, Simpson gave an interview to Marie Claire magazine, in which she was said to have "had it with Hollywood's twisted view of feminine beauty" and was photographed painting a pro-female mural with a group of underprivileged girls from Los Angeles' Green Dot Public School. By the time the magazine hit newsstands, Simpson had already had her nose job, and some Marie Claire readers complained that this was hypocritical. The magazine received over 1,000 letters of complaint and the magazine's new editor expanded the letters section of the September issue of the magazine to give readers a chance to vent their frustrations.
Simpson launched a collection of tops in partnership with the clothing retailer Wet Seal on April 22, 2008, the same day Bittersweet World was released. She also began appearing in commercials for Canadian retailer Zellers to promote their independent clothing line, Request, in mid-2008. Simpson appeared on the second episode of The CW's America's Next Top Model, Cycle 17 as a guest judge. She created a fashion line aimed at girls aged 7–16 in collaboration with her sister's successful brand. Simpson is the co-creative director of the line, which was released in the winter of 2011.