Ashlee Nicole Wentz, better known by her former stage name Ashlee Simpson and now professionally known as Ashlee Simpson-Wentz (born October 3, 1984 as Ashley Nicole Simpson), is an American pop rock singer-songwriter, and occasional actress. Simpson-Wentz, who is the younger sister of pop singer Jessica Simpson, rose to prominence in mid-2004 through the success of her number-one début album Autobiography and the accompanying reality series The Ashlee Simpson Show. Simpson received widespread criticism when she used a pre-recorded vocal track on Saturday Night Live in October 2004. Following a North American concert tour and a film appearance, Simpson released a second number-one album, I Am Me, in October 2005. Her third album, Bittersweet World, was released in April 2008.
Ashlee attended Prairie Creek Elementary. An accomplished dancer, Simpson began studying classical ballet at the age of three, and was admitted to the School of American Ballet in New York City at the age of eleven. Around that time, she suffered from an eating disorder; the condition lasted about six months, and she dropped to about 31 kg (70 pounds) at 159 cm (5 ft 2 in), but her parents then stepped in and got her to eat more. After her sister Jessica Simpson landed a record deal, the Simpson family decided to move to Los Angeles, California, where Ashlee began appearing in television commercials.
Simpson occasionally appeared on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, a reality show about the married life of Jessica and her then-husband Nick Lachey. To accompany the beginning of her own music career, she got her own MTV reality show entitled The Ashlee Simpson Show, which aired in a subsequent time slot to Newlyweds. It ran in the U.S. for eight weekly episodes over the summer of 2004, and a second season of ten episodes aired from January to March 2005. The show dealt with the process of writing, recording, and performing Simpson-Wentz's music as well as aspects of her personal life.
When appearing for live performances, Simpson performs live with a backing band. During the period from 2004 to 2006, the band consisted of Ray Brady (guitar), Braxton Olita (guitar), Joey Kaimana (bass guitar—from 2004 to 2005 Zach Kennedy filled this role), Chris Megert (keyboards and vocals—from late 2004 to 2005 Lucy Walsh filled this role), and Chris Fox (drums).
In addition to her own first album, Simpson sang "Christmas Past, Present, and Future" on the 2004 holiday album Radio Disney Jingle Jams and a duet of the Christmas song "Little Drummer Boy" with her sister Jessica for the album Rejoyce, which they had sung together during the ABC variety hour special Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas.
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. In addition, she also won a Billboard Award for New Female Artist of the Year in December, and in the same month she was named one of Entertainment Weekly's Breakout Stars of 2004. Simpson also co-hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve along with Regis Philbin (in Dick Clark's absence) at the end of the year, hosting the West Coast portion of the show and performing three songs.
Simpson appeared as a musical guest on Episode 568 of Saturday Night Live (October 23–24, 2004), and as is customary for the show's format, she was scheduled to perform two songs. Her first song, "Pieces of Me", was performed without problems. However, when she began her second song, "Autobiography", the vocals for the song "Pieces of Me" were heard again—before she had raised the microphone to her mouth. Simpson began to dance and then left the stage, while the band (not a recording) continued playing. During the closing of the show Simpson appeared with the guest host Jude Law, and said "I'm so sorry. My band started playing the wrong song, and I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoe down."
On October 25, Simpson called in to the music video show Total Request Live and explained that due to complications arising from "severe" acid reflux (which had previously been seen in The Ashlee Simpson Show) she had completely lost her voice and her doctor had advised her not to sing. She said that because of the acid reflux, her father wanted her to use a vocal guide track for the performance. She said of the incident, "I made a complete fool of myself." According to Simpson-Wentz, the drummer hit the wrong button, which caused the wrong track to be played. During the October 25 Radio Music Awards broadcast, Simpson pretended, as a joke, to make the same mistake as she did in the SNL incident, but then began to perform "Autobiography" without using a pre-recorded vocal track as she had done during the prior SNL performance. On October 31, the CBS news program 60 Minutes aired footage from Simpson-Wentz's rehearsals before the SNL performance in which Simpson is shown to be disturbed by voice trouble.
The New York Times said the much-viewed clip of Simpson-Wentz's SNL appearance "may just be this year's best music video," but dismissed its significance: "one of 2004's most popular new stars had been exposed as ... As what, exactly?
On January 4, 2005, Simpson performed "La La" at the halftime show for the 2005 Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida; after her performance, many of the 72,000-plus spectators booed. Others note that Kelly Clarkson had performed before Simpson in the show to a far more positive reaction, and assert that Simpson-Wentz's performance was poor and very off-key. Following her Orange Bowl performance, an Internet petition at PetitionOnline.com asking Simpson to stop producing music became one of the most active of the site's petitions. Simpson later said: "That's cool. You don't always have to be a fan of everybody's music", also citing the support she had received from her fans. Around the time of the petition, Cosmopolitan magazine chose Simpson to be on the cover of the February 2005 issue, naming her the "Fun Fearless Female of the Year".
Simpson's first U.S. headlining tour (with two dates in Canada as well) ran from mid-February to late April 2005, and its opening acts were Pepper's Ghost and The Click Five. In addition to material from Autobiography, Simpson performed her own unreleased song "Hollywood", The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket", Blondie's "Call Me", and Madonna's "Burning Up". She said that the tour would be "stripped down", without pyrotechnics, and that "it's going to be me and my band getting out there and having fun". In March 2005, Simpson said that The Ashlee Simpson Show would conclude at the end of its second season, the last episode of which aired at the end of the month.
Simpson-Wentz's second album, I Am Me, was released in the U.S. on October 18, 2005. Simpson said that she had wanted to incorporate the feel of music from the 1980s on the album, and that unlike her debut it would focus less on relationships and more on herself. I Am Me debuted at number one with roughly 220,000 copies sold, but sales quickly deteriorated; by April 2006, it had sold a little less than 900,000 copies. Its first single, "Boyfriend", became a top twenty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and performed similarly elsewhere. The second single, "L.O.V.E.", reached the U.S. top twenty-five, its success aided by a remix by R&B/hip-hop producer Missy Elliott and MTV's heavy rotation of the single's music video (it has been her most successful video to date on Total Request Live).
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 of Simpson's two performances on the show was of the ballad "Catch Me When I Fall", which was written about her previous SNL experience, and she thanked the crowd after her second performance. In mid-December, Simpson collapsed after performing in Japan, possibly due to exhaustion. She was briefly hospitalized, and consequently cancelled an appearance at the Radio Music Awards.
Simpson and her sister Jessica were scheduled to appear in Rolling Stone magazine in a shoot shot by photographer David LaChapelle in 2005. Upon hearing the concept, both sisters were said to be uncomfortable with LaChapelle's raunchy ideas and cancelled, outraging the photographer. He ranted to the press in early 2006, calling them "everything that's wrong with music." Furthering his statement, LaChapelle said he was just trying to "make the Simpsons look cool. I realize now that is an impossible task." LaChapelle planned to have the sisters "down and dirty" and appearing with snakes.
Simpson appeared on the December 2005/January 2006 cover of Teen People with her sister Jessica, and could also be seen on the December 2005 issue of Blender, Cosmopolitan magazine's January 2006 edition, the March 2006 issues of Seventeen and Elle, the April 2006 issue of Jane, the June/July 2006 issue of Teen People (in which she was named one of its "25 hottest stars under twenty-five"), the July 2006 issue of Marie Claire and the September 2006 issue of CosmoGirl.
Simpson won a Kelly Slater/MTV celebrity surfing invitational competition, which also featured celebrities such as Meagan Good, Jack Osbourne (her main competitor during the competition), Ashley Parker Angel and Tony Hawk, as part of an MTV-sponsored 'Spring Break' Special in March 2006. 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 "Boyfriend"). A new single, "Invisible", was released in mid-2006 and reached the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Initially it was said that the song would appear on a re-released version of I Am Me, but this never occurred. Simpson began a summer tour on June 5, 2006 with Ashley Parker Angel as an opening act; initially The Veronicas also opened but quit the tour after the first few shows due to a problem with one of their singers' vocal cords.
Simpson said that after this tour, which ended in late July, she would be going on vacation, that she would take her time making her third album, and that she would look at movie scripts and continue her acting career.
Simpson played the role of Roxie Hart in the London stage production of Chicago to rave reviews, from September 25 to October 28, 2006. One reviewer called Simpson's performance in the show "dazzling and near flawless".
Geffen 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. A March 2007 interview with EW.com suggested she was working with a variety of musicians for her new album.
In October, the album's release was delayed to the first quarter of 2008. The album's first single, the Timbaland-produced "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)", was released as a digital download in December 2007.
In an interview with Cosmogirl for its December 2007/January 2008 issue (for which she was the cover girl), Simpson said that she had a "stronger vision" for this album and that she challenged herself by "working with new sounds and new people". She described the result as a "fun party album" with a "silly and quirky" side. Regarding her future plans, she said that she wanted to take some small movie roles and eventually move into bigger roles. She also said she would like to do theater again and to someday have a clothing line.
Simpson has described the album as having some influences from '80s music while still incorporating some pop/rock. She intends to go on tour to support the album. Its second single, "Little Miss Obsessive", was released in March 2008.
Bittersweet World was released in the U.S. on April 22, 2008. Reviews for the album were characterized as mixed. A collection of tops designed by Simpson was launched by the clothing retailer Wet Seal on April 22, in connection with the album's release.
Simpson began appearing in commercials for Canadian retailer Zellers to promote their independent clothing line, Request, in mid-2008.
Previously blonde like Jessica, she dyed her hair dark during the recording of the MTV reality show after she finished filming for the 7th Heaven television series. In November 2004, she debuted a shorter haircut with the same dark color. Following the end of her Autobiography tour, in early May 2005 she moved back to a blonde color; she remained blonde until January 2008, when she appeared with a red hair color.
She has seven tattoos: a star on one wrist, two cherries on her ankle, the word "love" on her other wrist, the number "3" added to one wrist in 2007, and a large peony flower on one wrist in early March 2008.
Simpson and her sister were tied for third on oft-quoted celebrity-fashion critic Richard Blackwell's list of the worst-dressed celebrities of 2004. Blackwell quipped that "from gaudy to grim to downright frenetic these two prove that bad taste is positively genetic."
Simpson's relationship with actor Josh Henderson lasted for nearly two years and was shown ending in the first episode of The Ashlee Simpson Show. Soon after, she began dating fellow musician Ryan Cabrera. That relationship was also featured on the show, and Simpson appeared as Cabrera's love interest in the music video for his song "On the Way Down". The two were reported to have split in August 2004 due to their hectic schedules, but they resumed their relationship for a while afterward, before ending it again in early 2005. Simpson said afterward that they were still friends, although rumors suggested that Simpson did not like the fact that Ryan had moved on to Lisa Origliasso of The Veronicas.
At the beginning of her music career, Simpson said that she would not discuss her sex life, in contrast with her sister, who had openly stated her intention to practice sexual abstinence until marriage. "I decided that I didn't want to talk about that because it's super personal," Simpson said of the situation.
In 2005, rumors began circulating that Simpson was in a relationship with Wilmer Valderrama, who previously was involved with Lindsay Lohan. Simpson's single "Boyfriend" was reported to be about the situation, but she said that the song "is about [how] every girl out there sometimes thinks you stole her boyfriend. It's just making fun of that. Valderrama subsequently said on Howard Stern's radio program that he had sex with Simpson, but claimed the incident was unrelated to his break-up with Lohan. Later that year, rumours arose that Simpson was secretly dating another Joe Simpson-managed actor, Viva La Bam's Chris Raab. In February 2006, she told Seventeen magazine that she was dating bandmate Braxton Olita and went on a 10-day vacation with him to Hawaii.
In November 2005, eTalk broadcast a video of a late-night visit made by Simpson to a McDonald's fast-food restaurant in Toronto, Canada. Simpson appeared to be intoxicated in the video, and was shown arguing with an employee, as well as rejecting a customer's attempt to get an autograph from her because he wouldn't kiss her feet. According to Simpson in a 2006 Elle interview, she was "a little tipsy", and the customer had first called her "gross" before he had realized who she was, at which point he asked her for an autograph. She said that she told herself to "grow up" after the incident.
In February 2006, Simpson was honored by MTV's Total Request Live (TRL), as the "Bounce-Back" artist. The award was given to her for being able to recover from the negative moments of her career and release another #1 platinum album.
Simpson reportedly had a nose job in April 2006. When asked about it in an interview in May, Simpson neither confirmed nor denied it. 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. Joe Simpson said of the surgery in a September 2007 interview that "there was a real problem with her breathing and that was cured". In March 2008, she said that "as long as people have two eyes" they could determine whether she had a nose job.
In the June 2007 edition of Cosmopolitan, Simpson said that she hasn't lip synched since her Saturday Night Live incident, that she has "a little crush on Christian Slater", feels sexiest in bed, and that you can and can't have a good relationship without amazing sex.
In June 2006, it was reported that Simpson seriously considered but later turned down a $4 million offer to pose nude for Playboy.
In early September 2006, Us Weekly reported that Simpson and Braxton Olita had split up. Simpson's rep said that the couple "broke up about a week ago. They have decided to take a break."
Eventually the two began to acknowledge the relationship. In mid-2007 Wentz spoke about their relationship to InTouch magazine, saying of Simpson that "I have never met somebody who makes me feel the way she makes me feel", although he denied rumors of engagement. Simpson has since discussed their relationship in a number of magazine interviews, including the September 2007 issue of Seventeen magazine and the December 2007/January 2008 issue of CosmoGIRL!. In March 2008, Simpson and Wentz presented the award for Favorite Reality Show at the 2008 Kids' Choice Awards.
The couple announced that they were engaged on April 9, 2008. Simpson had previously been wearing what she described as a "promise ring" from Wentz for several months. On April 14, Us Weekly and OK! magazine reported that Simpson is pregnant. Wentz promptly denied this in an e-mail to MTV News, although Simpson, in an interview the next day, chose not to confirm or deny the report, saying that it was something to "keep personal", and on TRL she noted that rumors claiming she was pregnant had been appearing for so long that, if they were all true, she "would have had a baby by now". Due to the marriage, Ashlee has legally changed her name from Simpson to Wentz with her stage name changing to "Simpson-Wentz". Simpson says:
"I think that that's something that a woman should do when they're marrying a man. It's a tradition that I think is a great tradition."
On May 28, 2008, Simpson and Pete Wentz announced on Fall Out Boy's official website that they were expecting their first child.: "While many have speculated about this, we wanted to wait until after the first trimester to officially confirm that we are expecting our first child. This is truly the most joyous time in our lives and we are excited to share the happy news and start our family." In September of 2008, the couple confirmed that they are expecting a baby in November. It has been widely reported that the couple are expecting a baby boy but this has yet to be confirmed.
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's Green Dot Public School. By the time the magazine hit newsstands, Simpson had already had her nose job, and some Marie Claire readers complained about this as being hypocritical. The magazine received over 1,000 angry letters 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.
|2002||The Hot Chick||Monique||Appearance|
|2002—2004||7th Heaven||Cecilia Smith||Seasons 7–8|
|2004—2005||The Ashlee Simpson Show||Herself||Reality Show|
|2001||Malcolm in the Middle||High School Girl||"Reese Cooks" (episode 18, season 2)|
|2004||Teen Choice Awards|| Choice Fresh Face|
Choice Song of the Summer: "Pieces of Me"
|2004||Billboard Awards||Best New Female Artist Of The Year|
|2005||MTV Asia Video Music Awards||Favourite International Breakthrough Artist|
|2005||RIAJ Gold Disc Award||Newest Artist|
|2006||TRL Awards||Bounce-Back Artist|
|2006||MTV Australia Video Music Awards|| Best Female Artist|
Best Pop Video: "Boyfriend"