Ashlee Wentz (born Ashlee Nicole
Simpson; October 3, 1984) is an American pop singer-songwriter, dancer and
actress. Simpson-Wentz, who is the younger sister of pop singer Jessica
Simpson, rose to prominence in mid-2004 through the success of her
number-one debut album Autobiography and the accompanying reality series
The Ashlee Simpson Show. Simpson received widespread criticism when she
attempted to lip-sync with a pre-recorded vocal track on Saturday Night
Live in October 2004. The recording stalled and she did not sing, leaving
the band members alone on stage. Following a North American concert tour
and a film appearance, Simpson released a second number-one album, I Am
Me, in October 2005. Her third album, Bittersweet World, was released in
April 2008. The following month, she married musician Pete Wentz and
announced that they were expecting a child. On November 20, 2008,
Simpson-Wentz gave birth to their son, Bronx Mowgli Wentz.
Ashlee was born in Waco, Texas, and raised in Richardson, Texas. She is
the second daughter of Joe Truett Simpson (a former Baptist youth minister
who is now her manager) and Tina Ann Drew. Ashlee attended Prairie Creek
Elementary. Simpson began studying classical ballet at the age of three
eventually becoming an accomplished dancer, and was admitted to the School
of American Ballet in New York City at the age of eleven. Around that
time, she suffered from an eating disorder; the condition lasted about six
months, but her parents then stepped in and got her the help she needed to
overcome the issue. After her sister Jessica Simpson landed a record deal,
the Simpson family decided to move to Los Angeles, California, where
Ashlee began appearing in television commercials.
When Jessica became a star after releasing her first album, Ashlee became
one of her backup dancers. Later, Ashlee began appearing in films and
television series, including an episode of the sitcom Malcolm in the
Middle in 2001, a minor role in the 2002 film The Hot Chick and a
recurring role, 39 episodes from 2002–2004, on the family drama series 7th
Ashlee recorded a song called "Christmas Past, Present and Future" in 2002
for the holiday album School's Out! Christmas, later to be re-released on
Radio Disney Jingle Jams in 2004 and 2005. In the summer of 2003 she
released a song titled "Just Let Me Cry" for the soundtrack of the film
Freaky Friday. Eventually, Simpson signed a record deal with Geffen
Simpson-Wentz occasionally appeared on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, a
reality show about the married life of Jessica and her then-husband Nick
Lachey. To accompany and build interest in the beginning of her own music
career, Simpson-Wentz filmed and appeared on her reality television
series, The Ashlee Simpson Show, which aired in a subsequent time slot to
Newlyweds and whose theme was the title song from her debut album,
Autobiography. It ran in the U.S. for eight weekly episodes over the
summer of 2004 (a second season of ten episodes aired from January to
March 2005). The show dealt with the process of writing, recording, and
performing Simpson-Wentz's music as well as aspects of her personal life.
Simpson-Wentz's first album, Autobiography, debuted at number one in the
U.S. in July 2004 with first week sales numbering around 398,000 copies.
The album was certified triple platinum in September 2004. Simpson
co-wrote all of the album's tracks and described it as "very true to my
emotions" in one interview, but critical reviews were mixed. Rolling Stone
magazine's Peter Relic characterised Autobiography as a "mundane melange
of Avril-ish brat pop and Sheryl Crow cod rock." E! Online wrote "Even if
it doesn't wow you, Autobiography may surprise you." The single that
preceded the album, "Pieces of Me," was one of the biggest hits of the
summer in the U.S. and sold well elsewhere. However, the follow-up
singles, "Shadow" and "La La," were less successful.
When appearing for live performances, Simpson performs live with a backing
band. During the period from 2004 to 2006, the band consisted of Ray Brady
(guitar), Braxton Olita (guitar), Joey Kaimana (bass guitar—from 2004 to
2005 Zach Kennedy filled this role), Chris Megert (keyboards and
vocals—from late 2004 to 2005 Lucy Walsh filled this role), and Chris Fox
In addition to her own first album, Simpson sang a duet of the Christmas
song "Little Drummer Boy" with her sister Jessica for the album Rejoyce,
which they had sung together during the ABC variety hour special Nick &
Jessica's Family Christmas.
At the Teen Choice Awards on August 8, 2004, Simpson received the "Song of
the Summer" Teen Choice Award for "Pieces of Me," as well as the "Fresh
Face" award. In addition, she won a Billboard Award for New Female Artist
of the Year in December, and in the same month, Entertainment Weekly
Magazine named her one of its Breakout Stars of 2004. Simpson also
co-hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve along with Regis Philbin (in
Dick Clark's absence) at the end of the year, hosting the West Coast
portion of the show and performing three songs.
Simpson appeared as a musical guest on Episode 568 of Saturday Night Live
(October 23–24, 2004), and, as is customary for the show's format, she was
scheduled to perform two songs. Her first song, "Pieces of Me," was
performed without problems. However, when she began her second song,
"Autobiography," the vocals for the song "Pieces of Me" were heard
again—before she had even raised the microphone to her mouth. Simpson
began to do an impromptu jig when she realized the embarrassing error, but
then left the stage. During the closing of the show Simpson appeared with
the guest host Jude Law and said, "I'm so sorry. My band started playing
the wrong song, and I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a
On October 25, Simpson called in to the music video show Total Request
Live and explained that due to complications arising from severe acid
reflux disease, which had previously been seen bothering her in The Ashlee
Simpson Show, she had completely lost her voice and her doctor had advised
her not to sing. She said that because of the acid reflux, her father
wanted her to use a vocal guide track for the performance. Simpson stated
of the incident, "I made a complete fool of myself." According to Simpson,
the drummer hit the wrong button, which caused the wrong track to be
played. During the October 25 Radio Music Awards broadcast, Simpson
pretended, as a joke, to make the same mistake as she did in the SNL
incident, but then began to perform "Autobiography" without using a
pre-recorded vocal track as she had done during the prior SNL performance.
On October 31, the CBS news program 60 Minutes aired footage from
Simpson's rehearsals before the SNL performance in which Simpson is shown
to be disturbed by poor voice control.
The incident was spoofed on MADtv and in the Family Guy episode "Brian
Goes Back to College". Simpson is about to start miming a song when the
song changes to "Ol' Man River".
Jeannette Walls compared the impact of the SNL incident to the 1990 Milli
Vanilli incident in which their guide track skipped during a live MTV
performance, revealing that they were lip-synching.
The New York Times said the much-viewed clip of Simpson's SNL appearance
"may just be this year's best music video," but dismissed its
significance: "one of 2004's most popular new stars had been exposed as
... As what, exactly?"
Simpson returned to Saturday Night Live the following year to perform the
single "Boyfriend" and a new song "Catch Me When I Fall" from her album I
Am Me. Both songs were performed without incident.
On January 4, 2005, Simpson performed "La La" at the halftime show for the
2005 Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida; after her performance, many of the
72,000-plus spectators booed. Some people noted that Kelly Clarkson had
performed before Simpson in the show to a much more positive reaction, and
assert that Simpson's performance was poor and very off-key. Following her
Orange Bowl performance, an Internet petition at PetitionOnline.com asking
Simpson to stop producing music became one of the most active of the
site's petitions. Simpson later said: "That's cool. You don't always have
to be a fan of everybody's music." She also cited the support she had
received from her fans. Around the time of the petition, Cosmopolitan
magazine chose Simpson to be on the cover of the February 2005 issue,
naming her the "Fun Fearless Female of the Year."
Simpson's first U.S. headlining tour (with two dates in Canada as well)
ran from mid-February to late April 2005, and its opening acts were
Pepper's Ghost and The Click Five. In addition to material from
Autobiography, Simpson performed her own unreleased song "Hollywood," The
Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket," Blondie's "Call Me," and Madonna's "Burning
Up." She said that the tour would be "stripped down," without
pyrotechnics, and that "it's gonna be me and my band getting out there and
having fun." In March 2005, Simpson said that The Ashlee Simpson Show
would conclude at the end of its second season, the last episode of which
aired at the end of the month.
Simpson had a supporting role as an aspiring actress named Clea in
Undiscovered, originally titled Wannabe, an independent film that was
released in theaters in August 2005. Simpson filmed her scenes in late
2004. While Simpson's performance was met with acceptable reviews, the
film itself was trashed by critics and placed outside of the top ten in
its opening weekend, earning just $676,048. Her performance in the film
earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.
Simpson-Wentz's second album, I Am Me, was released in the U.S. on October
18, 2005. Simpson said that she had wanted to incorporate the feel of
music from the 1980s on the album, and that unlike her debut, it would
focus less on relationships and more on herself. I Am Me debuted at number
one with roughly 220,000 copies sold, but sales quickly deteriorated; by
April 2006, it had sold a little less than 900,000 copies in the United
States and 3 million copies worldwide according to Simpson's biography.
Its first single, "Boyfriend", became a top twenty hit on the Billboard
Hot 100 and performed similarly elsewhere. The second single, "L.O.V.E.",
reached the U.S. top twenty-five, its success aided by a remix by
R&B/hip-hop producer Missy Elliott and MTV's heavy rotation of the
single's music video; it has been her most successful video to date on
Total Request Live.
Simpson began a concert tour in late September in Portland, Oregon and
appeared on the October 8, 2005 episode of SNL to promote the album. The
first of Simpson's two performances on the show was of the ballad "Catch
Me When I Fall," which was written about her previous SNL experience, and
she thanked the crowd after her second performance. In mid-December,
Simpson collapsed after performing in Japan, possibly due to exhaustion.
She was briefly hospitalized, and consequently cancelled an appearance at
the Radio Music Awards.
Simpson and her sister Jessica were scheduled to appear in Rolling Stone
magazine in a shoot shot by photographer David LaChapelle in 2005, but
upon hearing the concept, both sisters were said to be uncomfortable with
LaChapelle's raunchy ideas and cancelled, outraging the photographer. He
ranted to the press in early 2006, calling them "everything that's wrong
with music." Furthering his statement, LaChapelle said he was just trying
to "make the Simpsons look cool. I realize now that is an impossible
task." LaChapelle planned to have the sisters "down and dirty" and
appearing with snakes.
Simpson appeared on the December 2005/January 2006 cover of Teen People
with her sister Jessica, and could also be seen on the December 2005 issue
of Blender, Cosmopolitan magazine's January 2006 edition, the March 2006
issues of Seventeen and Elle, the April 2006 issue of Jane, the June/July
2006 issue of Teen People (in which she was named one of its "25 hottest
stars under twenty-five"), the July 2006 issue of Marie Claire, and the
September 2006 issue of CosmoGirl.
Simpson won a Kelly Slater/MTV celebrity surfing invitational competition,
which also featured celebrities such as Meagan Good, Jack Osbourne (her
main competitor during the competition), Ashley Parker Angel and Tony
Hawk, as part of an MTV-sponsored 'Spring Break' Special in March 2006. On
April 12, 2006 she hosted and performed at the MTV Australia Video Music
Awards, where she won "Best Female Artist" and "Best Pop Video" (for
"Boyfriend"). A new single, "Invisible," was released in mid-2006 and
reached the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Simpson began a summer tour
on June 5, 2006 with Ashley Parker Angel as an opening act; initially The
Veronicas also opened but quit the tour after the first few shows due to a
problem with one of their singers' vocal cords.
Simpson said that after this tour, which ended in late July, she would be
going on vacation, that she would take her time making her third album,
and that she would look at movie scripts and continue her acting career.
Simpson played the role of Roxie Hart in the London stage production of
Chicago to rave reviews, from September 25 to October 28, 2006. One
reviewer called Simpson's performance in the show "dazzling and near
In November 2006, Simpson said that she was going to meet with record
executives soon and begin working on her third album. During 2007, Simpson
worked on the album, which was eventually given the title Bittersweet
World, with producers Timbaland, Kenna, and Chad Hugo. She said that it
would have a more "soulful" sound and more emphasis on beats than guitars.
Geffen chairman Ron Fair said in December 2006 that working on Simpson's
next album would be "very tricky" because of press scrutiny and
"prejudices", but that Geffen would work with her to overcome that,
"because she deserves to be heard and she deserves a shot." A March 2007
interview with EW.com suggested she was working with a variety of
musicians for her new album.
In October, the album's release was delayed to the first quarter of 2008.
The album's first single, the Timbaland-produced "Outta My Head (Ay Ya
Ya)", was released as a digital download in December 2007.
In an interview with Cosmogirl for its December 2007/January 2008 issue
(for which she was the cover girl), Simpson said that she had a "stronger
vision" for this album and that she challenged herself by "working with
new sounds and new people". She described the result as a "fun party
album" with a "silly and quirky" side. Regarding her future plans, she
said that she wanted to take some small movie roles and eventually move
into bigger roles. She also said she would like to do theater again and to
someday have a clothing line.
Simpson has described the album as having some influences from '80s music
while still incorporating some pop/rock. She intends to go on tour to
support the album. Its second single, "Little Miss Obsessive", was
released in March 2008.
Bittersweet World was released in the U.S. on April 22, 2008. Reviews for
the album were characterized as mixed. A collection of tops designed by
Simpson was launched by the clothing retailer Wet Seal on April 22, in
connection with the album's release.
Simpson began appearing in commercials for Canadian retailer Zellers to
promote their independent clothing line, Request, in mid-2008.
Simpson-Wentz has expressed that she wants to wait until her son is a few
years older before returning to music, as touring for and promoting a new
album would mean being away from her son. For the time being, she wants
concentrate on acting, which allows her to spend more time with her
On March 18, 2009, Simpson-Wentz appeared alongside her husband in the
crime drama series “CSI:NY”. She played a drug dealer named Lila Wickfield
in Season 5, Episode 18, "The Point of No Return". This marked
Simpson-Wentz first acting role since her stint in the 2006 west end
Simpson returned to television in the acting role of Violet Foster in
Melrose Place, the CW's revamp of the '90s series Melrose Place. Simpson
was originally signed to the show as a full-fledged cast member, but
producers and CW executives changed their mind and Simpson was let go from
the show after 13 episodes. Multiple rumours surfaces about her sudden
departure, including feuds with cast members, lack of acting ability and
financial issues. Simpson-Wentz stated that she knew all along that her
character would be written out once the murder mystery storyline had
concluded. Her last appearance will be in March 2010. It was later
revealed that Simpson's departure was due to the show needing a "face
lift" because of the decreasing viewing figures.
It was reported on November 5, 2009, that Simpson-Wentz will reprise her
role in the Broadway musical production Chicago. It was later confirmed on
November 16, 2009, that Simpson-Wentz will be reprising the role of Roxie
Hart. She will begin her Broadway run in November 30, 2009 and perform in
New York for six weeks. She will play 8 shows a week until February 7,
Simpson cites her childhood as being the time when she began to sing, and
admits that she dreamed of being on Broadway and didn't expect to break
into the pop music scene. Simpson trains with a vocal coach, and studies
old Etta James and Aretha Franklin albums for vocal inspiration. In one
interview, Simpson pointed to Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Chrissie Hynde
as musical influences.
When Simpson first broke onto the music scene in 2004, she was set apart
from her sister's already established image by a different musical style,
different fashion choices, and a more assertive personality. Simpson's
songs have been characterized by rock elements absent from her sister's
music, and, particularly during the time of her initial stardom, Simpson
would often wear outfits highlighting a more rock or punk-influenced sense
of style. Her fingernails and toenails have often been painted black. Over
time, Simpson has moved toward more typically feminine styles. In March
2008, she said that "I like to get dressed up now, and that's something
I've never been into before" and "I like to be feminine and sexy."
According to Simpson, in her sense of style she tends to "mix and match".
Previously blonde like Jessica, she dyed her hair dark during the
recording of the MTV reality show after she finished filming for the 7th
Heaven television series. In November 2004, she debuted a shorter haircut
with the same dark color. Following the end of her Autobiography tour, in
early May 2005 she moved back to a blonde color; she remained blonde until
January 2008, when she appeared with a red hair color.
She has seven tattoos, including a star on one wrist, two cherries on her
ankle, the word "love" on her other wrist, the number "3" added to one
wrist in 2007, and a large peony flower on one wrist in early March 2008.
Simpson and her sister were tied for third on oft-quoted celebrity-fashion
critic Richard Blackwell's list of the worst-dressed celebrities of 2004.
Blackwell quipped that "from gaudy to grim to downright frenetic these two
prove that bad taste is positively genetic."
Simpson's relationship with actor Josh Henderson lasted for nearly two
years and was shown ending in the first episode of The Ashlee Simpson
Show. Soon after, she began dating fellow musician Ryan Cabrera. That
relationship was also featured on the show, and Simpson appeared as
Cabrera's love interest in the music video for his song "On the Way Down".
The two were reported to have split in August 2004 due to their hectic
schedules, but they resumed their relationship for a while afterward,
before ending it again in early 2005. Simpson said afterward that they
were still friends, although rumors suggested that Simpson did not like
the fact that Ryan had moved on to Lisa Origliasso of The Veronicas.
At the beginning of her music career, Simpson said that she would not
discuss her sex life, in contrast with her sister, who had openly stated
her intention to practice sexual abstinence until marriage. "I decided
that I didn't want to talk about that because it's super personal,"
Simpson said of the situation.
In 2005, rumors began circulating that Simpson was in a relationship with
Wilmer Valderrama, who previously was involved with Lindsay Lohan.
Simpson's single "Boyfriend" was reported to be about the situation, but
she said that the song "is about how every girl out there sometimes thinks
you stole her boyfriend. It's just making fun of that." Valderrama
subsequently said on Howard Stern's radio program that he had sex with
Simpson and that she was loud in bed, but claimed the incident was
unrelated to his break-up with Lohan. Later that year, rumours arose that
Simpson was secretly dating another Joe Simpson-managed actor, Viva La
Bam's Chris Raab. Around that same time reports emerged that Simpson was
spotted with pop punk artist Ian Erix and those rumors lingered in several
variations but seem to be false as stated by Erix in a 2009 MySpace blog.
In February 2006, she told Seventeen magazine that she was dating bandmate
Braxton Olita and went on a 10-day vacation with him to Hawaii.
In November 2005, eTalk broadcast a video of a late-night visit made by
Simpson to a McDonald's fast-food restaurant in Toronto, Canada. Simpson
appeared to be intoxicated in the video, and was shown arguing with an
employee, as well as rejecting a customer's attempt to get an autograph
from her because he wouldn't kiss her feet. According to Simpson in a 2006
Elle interview, she was "a little tipsy", and the customer had first
called her "gross" before he had realized who she was, at which point he
asked her for an autograph. She said that she told herself to "grow up"
after the incident.
In February 2006, Simpson was honored by MTV's Total Request Live (TRL),
as the "Bounce-Back" artist. The award was given to her for being able to
recover from the negative moments of her career and release another #1
Simpson reportedly had a nose job in April 2006. When asked about it in an
interview in May, Simpson neither confirmed nor denied it. In the May 2007
issue of Harper's Bazaar, she said that she was not insecure about her
appearance and had not been beforehand. She said that plastic surgery was
a "personal choice" that one should only decide to do for oneself and not
for others. Joe Simpson said of the surgery in a September 2007 interview
that "there was a real problem with her breathing and that was cured". In
March 2008, she said that "as long as people have two eyes" they could
determine whether she had a nose job.
In the June 2007 edition of Cosmopolitan, Simpson said that she hasn't lip
synched since her Saturday Night Live incident, that she has "a little
crush on Christian Slater", feels sexiest in bed, and that you can and
can't have a good relationship without amazing sex.
Simpson was ranked as one of the "Hottest Women in Pop/R&B" by Blender in
January 2007. She was later voted as number 16 in Maxim's 2007 Hot 100
In June 2006, it was reported that Simpson seriously considered but later
turned down a $4 million offer to pose nude for Playboy.
In November 2009, Ashlee dyed her hair black again. Husband Pete Wentz
told E! Online that it is for an upcoming role.
Simpson married Fall Out Boy Bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz on May 17, 2008
in Encino, California at Simpson's parents' residence, where Ashlee's
father officiated at the ceremony. The two were first seen together in
late 2006; initially they denied being in a relationship, although there
was much speculation about this. In an interview for OK! magazine in late
2006, Simpson denied the speculation, while in an interview with Pete
Wentz on Ryan Seacrest's American Top 40 live, Seacrest asked if Wentz and
Simpson were "on" or "off", and Wentz laughed and said "off". In a Rolling
Stone photo shoot, however, Wentz and Simpson took a picture together for
the opening of Wentz's bar, Angels & Kings, and were labeled as a
"couple". Eventually the two began to acknowledge the relationship. In
mid-2007 Wentz spoke about their relationship to InTouch magazine, saying
of Simpson that "I have never met somebody who makes me feel the way she
makes me feel", although he denied rumors of engagement. Simpson has since
discussed their relationship in a number of magazine interviews, including
the September 2007 issue of Seventeen magazine and the December
2007/January 2008 issue of CosmoGIRL!. In March 2008, Simpson and Wentz
presented the award for Favorite Reality Show at the 2008 Kids' Choice
The couple announced that they were engaged on April 9, 2008. Simpson had
previously been wearing what she described as a "promise ring" from Wentz
for several months. On April 14, Us Weekly and OK! magazine reported that
Simpson is pregnant. Wentz promptly denied this in an e-mail to MTV News,
although Simpson, in an interview the next day, chose not to confirm or
deny the report, saying that it was something to "keep personal", and on
TRL she noted that rumors claiming she was pregnant had been appearing for
so long that, if they were all true, she "would have had a baby by now".
She changed her legal name from Simpson to Wentz and wished to be known
professionally as Ashlee Simpson-Wentz.
On May 28, 2008, Simpson and Pete Wentz announced on Fall Out Boy's
official website that they were expecting their first child. "While many
have speculated about this, we wanted to wait until the press was gone to
have our first child. This is truly the most joyous time in our lives and
we are excited to share the happy news and start our family." That fall,
Pete said they were "90% sure it was a boy". On November 20, 2008, Simpson
gave birth to their son, Bronx Mowgli Wentz.
Jenny Eliscu of Rolling Stone magazine criticized Simpson as being a
"manufactured" artist with little singing talent. Simpson's critics cite
incidents like the SNL episode and the Orange Bowl performance as evidence
for their claims.
In mid-2006, Simpson gave an interview to Marie Claire magazine, in which
she was said to have "had it with Hollywood's twisted view of feminine
beauty" and was photographed painting a pro-female mural with a group of
underprivileged girls from Los Angeles's Green Dot Public School. By the
time the magazine hit newsstands, Simpson had already had her nose job,
and some Marie Claire readers complained about this as being hypocritical.
The magazine received over 1,000 angry letters and the magazine's new
editor expanded the letters section of the September issue of the magazine
to give readers a chance to vent their frustrations.