Sophie Simmons Interview: Gene Simmons' Daughter Takes on the World
Image attributed to Sophie Simmons
Sophie Simmons, daughter of Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed, began her acting career starring in the realty TV series Family Jewels, which took a look at the family life of the legendary KISS frontman. She can currently be seen as the host of Refinery 29’s Body Image School digital series and as the face of Adore Me’s “All Women Campaign,” showing women how lingerie looks on all sizes of women.
Late last year, Simmons released a copy of the 90s classic “Kiss Me,” and a cover of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” as well as a cover of “Ego.” She also runs a child abuse advocacy center called Sophie’s Place in Vancouver and operates the online blog #NoFilter, which is about being unapologetically who you are.
“Sometimes people tell me I’m too big to be a model, which we’re all used to thinking. Now, I get people saying I’m too small to be a plus-size model and asking how I could consider myself a plus-size model. There are just these two sides to the argument now. You can’t please everyone. I’m always going to be too big for one person and too small for another person. The point is to just be yourself.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sophie, you are into acting, music, modeling, fashion and blogging! When did you become interested in trying to do it all?
Sophie Simmons: My mom always encouraged me to try everything, which I guess parents are supposed to do on some levels. But, I originally went to school for computer engineering, and I really wanted to get into tech. That was where my interest was at that time, but there’s just something so formulated about that field where you don’t really have a chance to create beyond the perimeters of what the code may be.
Music has always been in my family, so that was a natural transition for me. My parents made me take lessons on every instrument they could get their hands on. My mom was an actress, so she always ran lines with me as a kid and helped me out in school plays. This all just naturally started to happen all at once, so the computer stuff got put on the backburner as a great backup plan for when I retire from the arts, if I ever do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you currently concentrating on music or actively looking for acting projects?
Sophie Simmons: Both. I’m actually working on both all the time. I would say my normal day starts with me getting up and going to the studio. I’ll work on a couple of songs, and then at night, I’m in acting classes or casting workshops working on that. If I have an audition, then I don’t go to the studio that day, and I work fully on that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You recently wrote for rapper Rick Ross, so are you concentrating on writing music for other artists or for yourself?
Sophie Simmons: Usually, I try to write for myself first. Then, when the song is finished, I listen to it a couple of times to see if it’s really something I wanted to say or if it was just more of a general idea that I could pass on to another artist. It really comes down to if the feeling I felt while I was writing the song comes through in the song, then I would usually want to keep it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you primarily writing rap or other genres also?
Sophie Simmons: The Rick Ross thing came along just kind of by coincidence. I just write regular alternative pop songs. That’s what I’ve always done. Rick Ross heard one of my songs, I guess through Spotify, and asked if I would mind writing the chorus to one of his tracks. That’s how that came about. I wouldn’t ever try to write the rap portion for somebody. I don’t think that’s in my wheelhouse.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you finding doors opening for you in the music business that wouldn’t necessarily be opened if you were not the daughter of Gene Simmons?
Sophie Simmons: Actually, I see the opposite happen. I feel a lot of people don’t want to work with me because they think, before meeting me, that I don’t have talent or I just have a manager because of who I am. They just have all these preconceived notions about kids that come from entertainment families. But, I think I have years more experience in the field than most people do just because I come from an entertainment family. I actually think I have a better ear for music than most people do who have just come into it halfway through their lives.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who are the artists that inspire you?
Sophie Simmons: I grew up listening to Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London, the great jazz, blues and soul singers. That was what my parents made us listen to every day in the car on the way to school. So, that’s what I grew up loving.
In high school and college, I got introduced to alternative pop, and I thought that was so interesting that they were breaking the structure of what a song had to be. There didn’t have to be a verse, verse, chorus, it could just be a hook the entire time. You could make up the structure, and I thought it would be really cool to combine the melodies that I grew up listening to with alternative pop, and that’s where my sound lies now.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you start a blog called #NoFilter?
Sophie Simmons: I started it a little over a year ago because I used to follow all these fashion bloggers because they were relatable. They were more relatable than magazines because they were women just talking about what they liked to wear and that interested me. Over time, these fashion bloggers’ websites began to look more and more like magazines, more photoshopped and more curated, and they lost that authenticity.
So, I wanted to start an outlet that was surely genuine and authentic and focused on people’s unique voices without being filtered. I reached out through Instagram to a bunch of people that I just loved following. I loved their content, so I asked if they wouldn’t mind contributing whenever they felt like it to #NoFilter, and they could post whatever they wanted as long as it wasn’t photoshopped or anything like that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you decide to do the Adore Me lingerie campaign?
Sophie Simmons: It was not something I really aspired to do. I didn’t grow up thinking that I’d be a lingerie model or swimsuit model because I didn’t think I had that body type. But, that was just a misconception on my end because I didn’t have plus-size models to look up to. When I was growing up, there were skinny supermodels and amazon women. But, when Adore Me approached me about being one of their models for their campaign, I thought it was such a perfect chance to push myself out of my comfort zone and to also show young women that there are different body types and give them the chance to see them, like I never had.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you still receive criticisms about your body?
Sophie Simmons: Of course, but I think after the Body Positive Movement became mainstream, the criticism is mixed. Sometimes people tell me I’m too big to be a model, which we’re all used to thinking. Now, I get people saying I’m too small to be a plus-size model and asking how I could consider myself a plus-size model. There are just these two sides to the argument now. You can’t please everyone. I’m always going to be too big for one person and too small for another person. The point is to just be yourself.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I’ve spoken to actors that developed eating disorders as the result of the pressures of modeling.
Sophie Simmons: It happens a lot. It also happens in the reverse for plus-size models. You’re not really allowed to get any smaller because then you’re not considered plus-size, and that’s also a problem for clients.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you on a diet and exercise regimen?
Sophie Simmons: I try not to diet because whenever I consciously try to diet, I end up eating way more food that I would’ve normally just because, I don’t know, it’s some sort of mental fight I have with myself. My rule of thumb is to always just eat when you’re hungry and drink whenever you’re thirsty and try to be conscious of what you’re eating and drinking. Make sure it’s not too sugary or too terrible for you, but I also believe in indulging.
I love a good piece of cake, and I’m not going to tell myself I can’t have it every once in a while. For exercise, I try to do at least 30 minutes a day of walking around if I can’t get to the gym. I’ll park father away from my meetings if I have to, and then try to walk over, or I’ll try to get in and do some free weights. Jump-rope is a really great and fast way to stay in shape.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you receive questions from girls who are struggling with body image issues?
Sophie Simmons: I get personally contacted by young girls about this all the time through social media, and their issues are no different than what I went though when I was growing up. I think all young women have the same struggles. We just don’t talk about it with each other for some reason.
I always tell my followers that they can reach out to me if they’re having problems or if they need advice. That’s what I’m here for, so they can reach out and we can connect. I would just say to them that finding a support system is the most important thing. I don’t think I would be so confident in my body if I didn’t have such a supportive family and friends base.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your dad speaks about branding all the time and that few bands are as brandable as KISS. How do you feel about “branding” yourself using social media?
Sophie Simmons: I think ultimately I just want to create things and see them come to fruition whether that’s a song or a film. I think there’s something so special about seeing something on paper and then seeing it as a real tangible thing that you can listen to or watch or hold. I think there is something so cool about that. That’s where I would definitely want to be.
For branding, I think that anyone with a social media page really has to be aware of what their personal brand is because everything you post is a reflection of who you are, not only to your friends and family, but to your followers, to potential employers and jobs in the future. You just have to be so cautious of everything that you post and make sure it aligns with who you are. For some people, that may mean cutting back on things you think are innocent jokes but could get you into trouble in the future.
Some people don’t realize that when you sign up for social media, you are signing up to be a public figure. Even if your profile is private, you’re inviting people to come and try to look at it. So, I would just say to be conscious from day one on social media on what your brand is and what you’re putting out there.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about Sophie’s Place.
Sophie Simmons: I started Sophie’s Place when I was 18 years old as a joint venture with the mayor of Surrey, British Columbia, Dianne Watts. It is for abused children. We treat kids 18 and under who have been sexually, physically or mentally abused. What makes us special is everyone who needs to be involved in a child abuse case is in one building so kids don’t have to be shuttled around to their lawyers and therapists and tell their story a million times and be embarrassed about it. They can just come to us, tell their story in a kid-friendly, comfortable place, and we help them with the rest. They don’t have to worry about any of it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s next, Sophie?
Sophie Simmons: There’s definitely new music coming out that I’ve written for myself and for other people. What I’m focusing on right now is fashion week in New York, so I’ll be living in the city all of September doing that. Right after that in October, Sophie’s Place is having their annual fundraiser, so we’re working on selling tickets for that and making sure the event is everything we hoped it could be.
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