Jessica Simpson - Biography & Career
Jessica Simpson was born in Abilene, Texas and raised in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. She is the daughter of Joe Simpson (a former Baptist youth minister) and Tina Ann (a former Sunday School teacher). She has a two younger sisters Ashlee, who launched her own music career in mid-2004 and Amie who is set to be recording her first album in December 2006. Simpson started singing at the age of 12 in her Baptist church choir. At the same age, she made an unsuccessful application for The New Mickey Mouse Club, which starred fellow pop singers Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, among other future stars.
Simpson attended J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas. She was discovered singing at a church camp by a head of a small contemporary Christian record label and recorded an album over the next three years; however, the label folded before the record could be released. She dropped out in her senior year in order to tour and promote her demo album, which was funded by her grandmother, Joyce (thus the reason for the name of her 2004 holiday album, Rejoyce: The Christmas Album); she later earned her GED. During this time, she toured with the Christian Youth Conference circuit performing with Kirk Franklin, God's Property and CeCe Winans. She and her father sold copies of the album after her performances.
Tommy Mottola of Columbia Records obtained a copy of the album and, thinking she had potential as a pop singer, signed her as such.
In late 1999, Simpson released her debut album Sweet Kisses, which reached a peak of number 25 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and also made the top 40 of the UK charts. The album proved to be a success, selling two and a half million copies in the U.S. Her first single, the platinum-selling "I Wanna Love You Forever," reached the top five of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and the top ten in Canada and the UK. Her second single, a duet with then-boyfriend Nick Lachey of boy band 98 Degrees, "Where You Are", was a modest radio hit. The last single from the album, "I Think I'm in Love with You" (sampling John Mellencamp's 1982 hit "Jack And Diane"), was a top forty hit in the U.S. and a top 20 hit in Canada and the UK. In 2000, Simpson won two Teen Choice Awards for Choice Breakout Artist and Love Song of the Year ("Where You Are"). In 2000, Simpson appeared on the 98 Degrees video My Everything.
Released during the summer of 2001, Simpson's sophomore effort Irresistible reached the top ten of the Billboard 200 and top 20 of the Canadian album chart. Despite this improvement over her debut, the album's sales were less than satisfactory; by late 2001 the album only managed to be certified gold in the U.S. for selling 500,000 copies. In total, to date, the "Irresistible" album has sold a little over 750,000 copies. The title track lead single, "Irresistible", reached the top 20 in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, as well as the top 40 in Australia. A follow-up single entitled "A Little Bit" was also released, but failed to achieve substantial success. The album's third single, "There You Were", a sentimental Adult Contemporary song featuring Marc Anthony failed to make the charts. In 2002, Columbia Records released a EP remix album titled This Is the Remix containing electro-dance remixes of Simpson's biggest hits.
On October 26, 2002, Simpson married Nick Lachey. She famously announced that she remained a virgin until a week before her wedding night. During the summer of 2003, Simpson and Lachey's reality show Newlyweds began airing on MTV. Although Simpson was moderately famous before the series began, the show became a pop cultural phenomenon and made her famous even among those who did not follow pop music or MTV; it is considered by many to be the crowning glory of her career.
Throughout the run of four seasons she epitomized the stereotypical dumb blonde, notably when she asked Lachey whether the Chicken of the Sea tuna she was eating was chicken or fish. She also indicated that she believed that buffalo wings were made from actual buffalo. Her ignorance helped turn the show into a huge hit, making the average rating for each episode about 1.4 million viewers and reaching a series peak of 4 million viewers. (The gaffe was also a running joke in a Pizza Hut commercial, where she was shown to be annoyed at having her intelligence mocked again.) When introduced to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Simpson responded: "You've done a nice job decorating the White House". It has been suggested that her ignorance is simply an act she has parlayed into various commercial, television and film endorsements. On the show, Jessica worked alongside assistant Cacee Cobb.
Banking on the success of her new popularity, she appeared on a variety show (ABC's Nick and Jessica Variety Hour) in 2004 with Lachey. During that summer, Simpson won three Teen Choice Awards for Female Fashion Icon, Hottie Female, and Female Reality/Variety TV Star for Newlyweds. In 2005, the series won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show and wrapped shortly after.
Simpson's third album, In This Skin, was released during the summer of 2003 to coincide with the premiere of Newlyweds. Though initially the album was not a huge success, debuting at #10 with sales of 64,000 in its first week, it rebounded on the charts when a special collectors' edition was released in April 2004. It subsequently reached a peak of number two on the Billboard 200 and the top 40 of the UK charts, due largely to the success of Newlyweds. The album eventually proved to be her most commercially successful, selling almost three million copies in the U.S.; it also yielded arguably her most successful single to-date, "With You".
Simpson released a holiday album in late 2004 entitled ReJoyce: The Christmas Album, which had moderate sales success. The album debuted and peaked at #16 selling over 156,000 copies on the Billboard Album in November of that year and was certified Gold sometime later. It included duets with Nick Lachey and Ashlee Simpson, as well as a cover of "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" by Amy Grant, who Simpson has identified as one of her favorite recording artists.
During the summer of 2005, Simpson made her first major film appearance as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. The film debuted at number one on the U.S. box-office chart, grossing more than thirty million USD. One of the songs from the film's soundtrack, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", was sung by Simpson. The track won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Song from a Movie in early 2006. The controversial video directed by Brett Ratner raised eyebrows in the summer of 2005 with scenes containing Simpson washing a car in a pink bikini causing a backlash from her Christian former fans. During the filming of Dukes, well publicized rumors abound concerning an alleged affair Simpson had with co-star Johnny Knoxville. Knoxville was even queried about the alleged affair during a 2005 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Of late (September 2006) Bam Margera has reignited rumours he spent a fiery night with Jessica during the filming of The Dukes of Hazzard. As yet there has been no response by Jessica or her representatives.
In November 2005, after months of speculation, Simpson and her husband Nick Lachey officially announced that they had split. Simpson filed for divorce on December 16, 2005, citing "irreconcilable differences". She has asked the courts not to grant Lachey spousal support. The couple's divorce has been highly publicized worldwide. On July 1, 2006, it was announced that the divorce had been finalized on June 30. However, the two sides have yet to come to a financial agreement.
The couple sold their Calabasas mansion to Malcolm in the Middle star Justin Berfield for a little over $3.75 million. Simpson has also signed on the film "Major Movie Star" in which Simpson plays a movie star who enrolls in the army, beating out actress Brittany Murphy for the role. No filming dates have been announced. She was rumored to play Jeannie in the remake "I Dream Of Jeannie," but plans fell through. She was slated to star as the lead in the romantic comedy "Room Service" but another actress had already filled the role. She bought the rights to Lovers and Players and there are rumors that it could be turned into a film. She also signed on as the wife of David Clyde in the baseball flick "Walk On," the true story of Clyde, who was recruited in 1973 by the nearly bankrupt Texas Rangers and is in negotiations to to play CJ Parker, the role that made Pamela Anderson famous, in the big screen version of "Baywatch" although no filming plans have been announced yet. She turned down the sequel to The Dukes Of Hazzard and sources say Jessica is shopping a reality show, though Simpson denies the claims, citing "I'm done with reality television". She also is in negotiations to star in the remake of Private Benjamin, the role Goldie Hawn made famous in 1980. She has also signed on to play in the comedy "Blonde Ambition" which is scheduled to undergo filming soon. Simpson has also made guest spots on That's 70 Show and The Twilight Zone which gave her a taste of real acting experience.