When it comes to the Simpson sisters it can be hard to tell which one is the more successful. While Jessica had a mainstream pop career, a popular reality show and a billion dollar fashion line, Ashlee Simpson, the younger of the two, had a successful pop career, appeared in a few commercially successful movies and even appears on Broadway. From a monetary perspective Jessica is the clear winner, but from an artistic perspective an argument could be made for Ashlee.
So let’s take a look at where she came from and what she’s doing now.
Ashlee Simpson’s Early Life
Ashlee Simpson was born on October 3rd 1984 in Waco Texas. Her mother is Tina Ann Simpson, a homemaker, and her father is Joseph Simpson, a minister turned psychologist turned manager. Her older sister is the singer Jessica Simpson, as I mentioned. They both attended the local Prairie Creek Elementary and North Junior High, in Richardson Texas. Ashlee has studied dance from a young age, taking up classical ballet. She pursued the art at the School of American Ballet in New York when she was eleven, the youngest person ever admitted to the school.
It was during this time that Ashlee Simpson suffered from an undisclosed eating disorder. She suffered from the illness for six months before seeking help from her parents, one of the good points about having a psychologist for a father. The family soon relocated to Los Angeles, to aid her sister Jessica’s singing career. While Jessica was off recording, Ashlee began auditioning for, and landing, commercials, appearing in ads for Pizza Hut and Liquid Ice Breakers.
Once Jessica’s album took off Ashlee Simpson served her older sibling as a back up dancer while she was on tour. She still hoped to pursue a career in acting, what happened to her dreams of dance? And in the early 2000s she had guest roles on “Malcolm in the Middle” and “7th Heaven”. She made her feature film debut in 2002 with the Rob Schneider vehicle “The Hot Chick”. Back when Rob Schneider was still a cinema draw. The film was a modest success, but critically panned. It was during this time that Ashlee would delve into the music business. She recorded several tracks in 2002 and 2003 for film soundtracks, and by the end of the year she was writing and recording demos. It wasn’t long before she announced that Geffen Records had signed her and she began working on her debut album.
It was the marriage of her sister Jessica and 98 Degrees front man Nick Lachey that really kicked off her career. Jessica got herself a reality show, and Ashlee was a bit of an break out star. Ryan Cabrera also appeared and the two soon began dating. Not long after appearing on “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica” Ashlee was offered her own spin off show. She wished to distance herself from her sister, and so dyed her hair brown. This was big news at the time. Her spin off focused on her recording her new album, and was less successful than her sisters. The album is a different story.
Ashlee Simpson’s Mainstream Success
She wanted it to be a pop-rock record, as she did not listen to straight up pop music, she co-wrote all of the songs, no mean feat, and the lead single, Pieces of Me, shot to the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut album, Autobiography, was released on the 20th of July, 2004 to a mixed critical reception. While the record divided the critics, the fans ate. it. up. The Album debuted at the top of the charts and went on to sell 2.5 million copies, the highest selling debut album from a female recording artist that year. The record was no doubt buoyed by the success of her reality show, and it would go on to sell 5 million copies world wide.
Disaster stuck the singer in 2004 during an appearance on Saturday Night Live. She appeared on the show to promote her album and was set two play to tracks. The lead single, Pieces of Me and her new single, the title track Autobiography. The first song went by without a hitch, but when she went to sing the second, the vocals for Pieces of Me began playing, proving that she was lip-syncing. She tried to cover by dancing a little jig, but even that was up. The performance is cited as the moment her career, and her sisters to a lesser extent, went into decline.
She would go on to release two more tracks from the album, despite the negative media attention surrounding the incident. Shadow was a song about her sister, and it received very positive reviews from critics, a shame then that it didn’t chart very high. The last track released, La La, sold moderately well, but did not reach the same level of popularity that Pieces of Me achieved.
Ashlee Simpson was soon on the road for a 37 date North American tour. While on the road she wrote material for her second album. During the tour she performed a mix of her debut album, covers and even some new songs. Afterwards she had a supporting role in her second feature film, “Undiscovered”. The flick received terrible reviews, was a commercial flop and it gained Ashlee a nomination for a Golden Raspberry. She would release her second album, I Am Me, in October of 2005. The album featured a blend of her original pop rock sound and an eighties feel. It was a commercial success, though not as much of one as her debut.
Her sophomore effort spawned only two singles, but both were top forty hits. She made a return to Saturday Night Live in 2005, and performed two tracks without incident. She collapsed in mid-December that year while touring Japan. The hospitalization was attributed to exhaustion, a result of her busy work schedule. Her I Am Me tour was followed by a second North American tour, the L.O.V.E. Tour, in promotion of the same album. She planned to re-release the I Am Me album in 2006, but those plans were scrapped. It was in 2006 that she would be cast as Roxie Hart in the Broadway production “Chicago”. Her performance was well received. She also began dating Fall Out Boy guitarist and songwriter Pete Wentz.
Shortly after her run on Broadway, Ashlee Simpson began working on her third studio Album. Dubbed Bittersweet World, the 2008 release was her least commercially successful album to date. It would also be her last album, as she has yet to produce any new material. In mid 2008 she web Pete Wentz, two weeks after the wedding she announced her pregnancy, ending any promotion for the album. She gave birth to her first child, Bronx Mowgli, in November 2008.
In 2009 she returned to acting, playing the role of Violet Foster in “Melrose Place”, the CW’s reboot of the 1990s series. While she had initially signed on to portray the character on a full time basis, the writers on the show wrote her out after only twelve episodes. Her departure came as a surprise to many, and Jessica was said to be incensed at the news, claiming that Ashlee being in the show brought publicity to the project. In spite of this Ashlee herself has said that she always knew her character would be written out after the central murder mystery was resolved. She returned to Broadway shortly after, reprising her role as Roxie for a three month run. Two days after her final performance she announced her divorce from Pete Wentz.
She began work on her fourth album in 2011. She said in interviews at the time that it would have a folk feel, but no new record was released. She would release her last single, Bat for the Heart, that year. It was a little more risque than fans had come to expect of her, and was poorly received as a result. She appeared in her third film in 2013, the comedy “Pawn Shop Chronicles”. While the film has a star studded cast, it was considered a mess of a flick. Ashlee would return to Broadway for a third time in mid 2013, this time to a mixed reception.
What is Ashley Simpson Doing Now in 2018?
Ashlee Simpson began dating current husband Evan Ross, son of Diana Ross, in mid 2013. The two wed the following year. They have one child together, a daughter whom they named Jagger Snow.
With a career as filled with ups and downs as hers, it isn’t much of a surprise that Ashley is taking a step back from the media. She has a new child to raise. A relationship to grow and a serious look at her music career to take. She maintains an active twitter and instagram account.
Late last year Ashlee portrayed Streika in Space Dogs, a Russian CGI animated film based on their canine astronaut program in the fifties and sixties. I have yet to catch the flick, but I have to assume that none of them are left up there. in more interesting news Ashlee Simpson has informed us that she will be releasing new music in 2017. After an 8 year hiatus fans are clamoring for new material from her. Bit of bad timing on her part, seen as Mariah Carrey’s recent lip sync debacle has reminded us of her downfall all those years ago. Here’s hoping what is released is great.