In less than two years, Vanessa Simmons has gone from a catalog model to an official Girl Scouts role model. Her and her sister Angelas idea of designing a sneaker progressed into Pastry, a multi-million dollar empire.
When she was first introduced to the world in 2006 on MTVs Runs House she was simply pursuing acting. She eventually secured a compelling role on the soap opera The Guiding Light, and shes starting off 2008 starring in the stage comedy The Actors Rap.
Having capitalized off the popularity of her familys show, Vanessa has become a burgeoning entrepreneur and actress. We spoke to her about her new gig, expanding the Pastry brand and how she survives Hollywood by ignoring ignorance.
AllHipHop.com: Describe your character in The Actor’s Rap.
Vanessa Simmons: My character in The Actors Rap, her name is Lil’ Tease, and shes a rapper. So you can imagine how fun its going to be to play this character cause its so different from who I am and what viewers are used to seeing on Runs House. Its definitely been a great experience.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve played a part in reality television, soap operas and stage plays. Do you have a favorite?
Vanessa Simmons: The stage play has been so much for me, because I feel that stage acting is the rawest form of acting that there is. Its fun. Its a play. You get to play with it and bring your own energy to it. And being in the play Ive learned so much about myself and being able to not take myself so seriously while being on stage. Thats when youre at your best. It definitely expanded my range a bunch.
AllHipHop.com: Your character Lola on The Guiding Light abruptly left town. Are there hopes she will be written back into the script?
Vanessa Simmons: Oh yeah, absolutely! With the way she left she just told the guy that she was leaving town since he wasnt trying to deal with her and their situation. So there is definitely a chance she could come back.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a role out there that you refuse to do?
Vanessa Simmons: There are certain movies that I will refuse to do but, you know, Im an actress so I try to see the great in everything. But there are just some movies that are not meant for everybody to do. AllHipHop.com: For the first season of Run’s House you seemed more conservative but now you and Angela appear flashier. Has Run’s House changed your demeanor in anyway?
Vanessa Simmons: Angela and I, we learn every day. Were still sifting through this maze that is called Hollywood. So we learn stuff everyday about ourselves and the industry and we just take that and grow. AllHipHop.com: What are the pros and cons of starring in reality television?
Vanessa Simmons: I look for the positive in every situation. Obviously theres cameras around sometimes when we dont want them to be, but what are you gonna do? Other than that, its been an amazing experience for us. I get to do so many things now because of it. Weve started our sneaker company thats done amazing, and were so excited about it.
Now its expanding and itll include jewelry, clothing and handbags and everything else like that. So I look for the pros in everything, because I think that you should only look for the positives things in situations and what you can take out of it – rather than look for the cons and complain. AllHipHop.com: You were really into modeling during the first season. Has that taken a backseat to designing and acting? Any new modeling campaigns your doing or wish to do?
Vanessa Simmons: I do model still, here and there. Im a lot more concentrated on my acting and my businesses. The next campaign Im looking forward to is the lingerie line with Pastry. I get to have fun with all the photo shoots we do with our line. I have my own campaigns now. [laughs] AllHipHop.com: The Pastry sneaker collection has really taken off! We hear you and Angela are about to debut a line of [athletic wear]. What’s next after that?
Vanessa Simmons: Our jewelry. Our handbags just came out too. Well not handbags more like gym bags. Me and Angela just started designing the handbags. Were doing a line of shoes thats going to be sold in high-end stores. So like stilettos and boots and fun stuff like that. Were very excited about everything. I cant even express how great of a year 2007 was, and now 2008 has been amazing so far. AllHipHop.com: You’ve took on modeling, acting, reality television, designing. What’s next? <!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–><!–[endif]–>
Vanessa Simmons: Im doing the acting thing. I have another acting project I just signed on for two weeks after I finish the The Actors Rap. Me and Angela are writing a book for teen girls about self-empowerment, boys and all that fun stuff. Were playing around with the title Girls Best Friend. Were just trying to make a difference one day at a time, and we believe that its definitely something tangible and can be done.
AllHipHop.com: On the last episode of Runs House you and Angela were headed to the West Coast. How’s life in L.A.?
Vanessa Simmons: Its great! Its a little cold though. I just flew in from New York from rehearsal last night. I just came into L.A. for a couple promo things, but its great. Just a little cold.
AllHipHop.com: Youre originally from the New York area. Whos your pick for the Super bowl?
Vanessa Simmons: Giants! I might live in L.A., but its New York all day!
AllHipHop.com: 2008 just rang in not too long ago. Did you have a New Years Resolution and are you sticking to it?
Vanessa Simmons: My New Years Resolution was to not have any idle time in 2008. And so far I have not had any idle time at all. [laughs] Im just keeping myself busy pushing all of my projects.
AllHipHop.com: The blogs are busy with rumors of Angela and Bow Wow dating. Are you dating anyone?
Vanessa Simmons: No not really. Im just feeling it out, the whole dating thing.
AllHipHop.com: You and Angela recently signed on as mentors for the Girl Scouts organazation. Any advice youd give to anyone pursing their dreams?
Vanessa Simmons: For anyone seeking advice for their careers or life, just keep pushing because anything is possible. Anything that you can think of or dream of, it can happen. Ive just learned that through personal experiences. People are going to tell you no, but you gotta keep pushing. You can always expect the no, but never accept the no. If you just know that you can get far with your dreams.
Check out the trailer for The Actor’s Rap at www.theactorsrap.com/trailer.html