Vanessa Simmons: Renaissance Woman
TV.com: Hey, Vanessa, how you doing?
I'm good, how are you?
Not too bad, thanks for taking the time to do this, I appreciate it.
So, first of all, let's talk about the play, The Actor's Rap. What can you tell us about that?
Well, I'm in a play called The Actor's Rap. It's basically, it's a spoof off the fact that rappers are taking work from actors, and they get real fed up and they kidnap the rappers. And I actually happen to play one of the rappers, which is completely different from who I am. So, being in this play has been a lot of fun and really great experience so far.
Is the play just in New York? Or is it touring, or what's the deal with that?
I'm doing it in New York so far. I know that they do plan on touring with the production, and hopefully I can get in on a couple of other tour dates within my schedule with Pastry and some other stuff.
That sounds good. I also want to talk, obviously, you know, a lot of people know you fromRun's House. That show has been a huge hit. You guys have been doing it for a while now. Is it--at least at first, was it awkward to have all those cameras in your face, following you around all the time?
At first, you know, it was just a lot to have--because our show's not like one camera following us around. We have five cameras, that's why they get so many different angles and stuff. So, of course, naturally, if you have five cameras in your face it's a bit awkward. But, believe it or not, after five seasons--I'm kind of used to them being there, you know. You never truly get like, okay--you're conscious there's cameras around when there's five cameras on tripod around you. But you know, I'm getting used to it after five seasons. "Getting" is the operative word.
Now, being in that you grew up in, you know, with your dad being in the business and whatnot, did that make it easier for you because you're sort of used to the media and being around show business from when you were a kid?
I was used to the media, you know, seeing my dad and my uncle and my aunt, all of them do that, like, but I think everyone has their own experience with, you know, when you finally--when you're the one being interviewed. So, you know, I'm still growing and I'm still learning this whole industry and everything that goes on with it. I'm still a newbie at it, I consider, but you know, I got to see on the outside looking in, and now I'm actually on the inside looking out, and I'm growing and I'm still learning, you know, still feeling my way around the industry.
Obviously, your dad was in one of the greatest and the most influential hip-hop groups of all time. Growing up in that environment and knowing that, did that make you want to get more into show business, or did that make you more interested in the music and videos and that type of stuff, when you were a kid? Or is it something that you just figured was normal because you were always around it?
I guess it's something I always considered to be normal, you know. Since I was little that's just something I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to act since I've been about 10 years old. So, I don't know if that's just inbred because of everything that's around me, but that's really just what's in me. Yes, that's what's makes me happy too. And as I've grown up more, the more and more you know--I realized it wasn't so normal when I got into college and was around other people from all different walks of life, and different places, that this is not very normal and my life's not very normal. But you know, you use what you have to get what you can get, and you know, I work very, very hard, and I don't want people to misunderstand the fact that I am very privileged, I know that I do live a very beautiful and blessed life. But I work very, very hard to get all of the things that I obtain. I just want that to be known, that I do work extremely hard, you know.
I've gone into auditions and not gotten jobs before, and you know, you don't always get what you want. You just have to work really hard, and that's been instilled in me, so I just want that to be known. Because a lot of people do misunderstand and think that we're given everything. Because of the name, and we're not, you know, we work hard. We're sitting here in LA right now--I just flew from East to West over a span of six hours and finished a rehearsal at 11, and got on a plane to come here at 5 o'clock in the morning, you know, it's very hard work, it's not by any means easy.
Right, I hear you. Now, you said that ever since you were a kid you always wanted to be an actress. Did you ever--being surrounded by the music as well, is that something that you ever thought about getting into, singing or rhyming or anything like that?
I write. I write, that's what I do, writing is therapeutic for me, so I do write songs for singers and stuff like that. But I do love music and I feel like that's been inbred in me, just being around that--being on tour with my dad since I was younger and all of that. But singing--I don't think you guys can ever expect an album from me. Maybe a feature or something, you know. Not an album or anything, you know.
That's cool. Now, also, society is so kind of obsessed with, like, young movie stars, and a lot of these young actresses or models, or celebutants and what have you, are constantly kind of getting in trouble and acting a fool on the Internet and on TV and stuff like that, whereas you've managed to stay out of all that sort of controversy and drama. Is that just something that's because of the way you were raised, or what? Do you ever struggle with that?
I think that it's the way I was raised. I hold of myself in very high respect--I have a very high respect for myself and the way I treat myself. I'm not one to judge any of those people, none of them, because you know, they're all young and everyone has their own reasons. But, I think in the way that I was raised and just the way that I want to go with my life and my career, that I just always know that I've had to be very focused.
Right on. So you've got the play that you're doing now. You've got, Run's House is still going strong. You're doing Guiding Light as well, right?
And we have Pastry [footwear company with sister Angela]. Yeah, I just finished up with Guiding Light. I have another part that I just signed on to do. I leave two weeks after the play. I'm not allowed to talk about exactly what it is. It's a feature film.
Yeah, I'm very excited about it. And me and my sister are still growing Pastry, clothing comes out 2/15. We have jewelry, the sneakers. We have grown and are growing at such a rapid pace. We have, you know, luggage now, and gym bags and all that kind of fun stuff. So, life has just been so, so beautiful and I enjoy every day and I enjoy the process of growing and learning.
So, what's next for you? You've got the shoes and the jewelry and all that stuff coming out. What can we expect to see from Vanessa Simmons in the next year?
Oh, my god, world domination. [Laughs]
I'm just kidding. You know, just more Pastry, more of me acting and being more serious about that aspect of my career. So much. I do plan, like, a lot of you know, charity work and stuff. My sister and I are spokesgirls for--spokeswomen, for the Girl Scouts of America. So much. I want to open a camp. I'm writing a teen self-empowerment book for girls. A lot of stuff, you know. I've had all these ideas twirling in my head since I've been 12, of what I want to do and how I can make a difference and make my impact. And it's here and I'm doing it. And it's like, such an unbelievable experience.
Excellent. Well, you got any last words you'd like to say to the people out there, whether they're fans of the show or people that are just getting into you?
Well, definitely to come out and support the play. It's something very different. You won't see Vanessa from Run's House in it, I'm playing a rapper, I'm playing Lil' Tease. So, she's completely different from who I am. And to anyone who's looking for inspiration or advice, to just keep pushing through because it seriously does work. You know, I've been working at this since I've been in college. You know, most people are like, "Oh, she got on Run's House and then she started pushing her way through." No, you know, this is way before Run's House, the process had started.
Right on, excellent. Well, hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us, Vanessa, I appreciate it. And good luck in all your endeavors.
Thank you very much.
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