Blonde bimbo, she definitely is not! Jessica Simpson is more than just a Hollywood celebrity with hit movies and television shows, as well as songs that went to the top of the charts; she is also a philanthropist and the owner of a billion-dollar business empire.
Childhood and Youth
Jessica Ann Simpson was born on July 10, 1980 in Abilene in Texas. Her father, Joseph Truett Simpson, or Joe, is a psychologist and Baptist minister who also works as the youth minister in their congregation. Her mother, Tina Ann, is a homemaker. Jessica also has a sibling who is a celebrity in her own right, singer Ashlee Simpson.
Jessica grew up in Dallas, Texas, where she got her start in singing by performing in the local Baptist church where her father also served. It was around this time that she auditioned in The Mickey Mouse Club, which she flunked after getting stage fright while performing with other talented kids, with Justin Timberlake among them. She did not lose heart, however, and got to wax an album entitled Jessica with Proclaim Records. The company, unfortunately, went bankrupt before the album got released.
Fortunately for Jessica, Tommy Mottola, an executive from Columbia Records, heard the album. Mottola, at that time, was head of Sony Music Entertainment, which is part of the Columbia group. He was known for his keen eye for talent, having signed into the label artists like Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child, Shakira and Gloria Estefan. Latin music actually exploded partly because of Mottola’s drive to promote Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, among others. Mottola was also married to Mariah Carey, one of the biggest recording artists then.
Mottola liked Jessica’s talent, skill and passion for music. He immediately signed her up for his record label and had top producers working in her album. Jessica was also promoted, despite her looks, with an anti sex appeal image. The move was two-pronged, as it emphasized Jessica’s pronouncement to stay a virgin until she gets married and it positioned her as a counterpoint to the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who were both packaged as teens oozing with sex appeal.
Becoming a Pop Star
The move paid off, as Jessica’s first single off her officially released debut album, entitled I Wanna Love You Forever, reached the top ten of Billboard Magazine’s music chart. The song also topped the charts across the pond in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. It also hit it big in Canada and Australia.
The album itself, entitled Sweet Kisses, did not do as well, though it still garnered decent sales numbers. Feeling that she needed to exude a sexier image to attract more attention, Jessica released a more mature sound in her second album, called Irresistible. Critics panned the album, however. The suggestiveness of the lyrics and the use of digital sound manipulators in the album brought negative reviews. Sales from the album did not even match that of her debut effort.
Jessica suffered another setback when her concert tour in 2001 got cancelled after just a month because of the terrorist attacks on 11 September.
Ups and Downs
By this time, Jessica was already used to failures, having bounced back from several mistakes in the past. She reunited with her on and off boyfriend, Nick Lachey, and got married on 26 October 2002. The two would then star in a reality show on MTV, called Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. The show was originally intended for Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, but the two decided not to do the series. It turned out to be Jessica’s gain, as she and her husband became a household name soon after.
Her newly found popularity brought about an invite to open the halftime show in the 2004 Super Bowl. She performed the song Sweetest Sin, which was about losing her virginity to her husband. The song failed to crack the music chart, however.
Still not discouraged by the outcome of her previous releases, Jessica started recording a third album, entitled In This Skin. Though sales were tepid initially, it eventually picked up after the release of the single With You. It was her first chart hit since her debut single.
Jessica eventually branched out to the movie world, appearing in the mild hit The Dukes of Hazzard. She sang a song from the movie entitled These Boots are Made for Walking, which marked a complete turnaround to her sweet image when she was just starting. The video of the song showcased a sexy and flirtatious Jessica washing the car made famous in the movie.
Jessica and Lachey divorced just a year later. She then featured in a couple of movies that flopped, as well as released albums that failed to make the chart.
Empire Strikes Back
Jessica found more success in business. She launched a line of perfume, edible lipgloss and other beauty products in 2004. Buoyed by its success, a parallel line catering to a younger audience called Dessert Treats was released the following year.
It was also around this time that Jessica established her now billion-dollar empire called Jessica Simpson Collection, or JSC. It carried a line of bags, boots and shoes, all of which were raved about by the public. She also released a fragrance line called Fancy in 2008. Aside from these, she also designs and sells jewelries and sunglasses.
JSC now boasts of more than 22 product licenses, with the products sold online and distributed in more than 650 department stores across the country, including Belk, Dillard’s and Macy’s. It is considered the best selling among all the clothing empires run by celebrities.
Jessica has also become the endorser of Pizza Hut, DirectTV, Proactiv Solution and Ice Breakers. She also uses her celebrity status and business wealth to good use, as she is actively involved in Operation Smile as its International Youth Ambassador. Jessica’s soft heart for kids is further gleamed by her support to children organizations, even once exchanging a luxury car she had won in an awards show for a minivan that could serve an orphanage better.