Vanessa Simmons is looking rightfully fresh with a brand new movie, a recently launched lingerie line and an unstoppable outlook on life. The first daughter of hip-hop pioneer Rev Run, formerly of RUN DMC, is refusing to base her life on the expectations of others. Vanessa proudly launched Rose by Vanessa Jean, a sexy, upscale lingerie line mostly reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. While the launch may be keeping the Pastry founder busy, she has not strayed away from her passion of acting. Her new film, Dysfunctional Friends, is in selected theaters now. It’s a fun comedy with a star-studded cast that includes Meagan Good, Stacey Dash and Tatyana Ali. Vanessa likened being on set of the film to a dream. It “was so surreal,” she described.
The 28-year-old actress dispels the silver spoon perception and says she has to work just as hard as everyone else, regardless of coming from a wealthy family. She chats with VIBE Vixen about remaining fearless despite the opinions of others, while sharing the best advice she’s ever gotten from her father. -Lathleen Ade-Brown
What role do you play in the new movie Dysfunctional Friends?
My character in the movie is Hanna, and she just stirs up a little trouble for my co-star Brett (Wesley Jonathan). She’s like his mistress; she’s a funny kind of a girl. It was really cool working on the set because I got to work with a lot of people that I use to see on TV growing up. Meagan Good has been acting forever; I use to watch TV and watch her and say ‘I think I want to do that.” I got to learn a lot from all my co-stars.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an actress; some people think it’s easy?
Before I moved to LA, I was like “I got this!” But when I got there it was like ‘wait there are a lot of girls here just like me.’ It’s not as easy as it seems to be so vulnerable in front of so many people, you might be able to do it in your bathroom, in front of the mirror but get on set with so many people around, the director and the whole crew, everyone is watching and everyone is looking. The more I fall into it and the more I do it, it becomes easier, I learn as I go. I just want to get better and be good.
What inspired you to launch your lingerie line?
I love lingerie so much. I spend way too much money in Victoria’s Secret, but I wasn’t finding little things that were needed. So I started designing little things for myself. I would make a robe or a corset, and other women would love what I have to offer. It’s all about old Hollywood glamour. Most of my inspiration comes from, Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Dandridge; they were so classy and feminine. I really think I have something to offer, and I want to be able to offer it to women of all shapes and sizes.
Were you reluctant to release the lingerie line? What do you say to the people who may think it’s too sexy and mature for a Reverend’s daughter to release?
I laugh at those people because I’m like, I can’t be a normal female and like normal things that girls like? What am I suppose to be wearing? Granny panties? [laughs]. I make some money, I go buy sexy things. I’m obsessed like any other woman would be, so those people that hate on the project, I don’t pay them no mind.
Perhaps they still consider you a young girl.
People think I’m like 10! I’ve been mature since [Run’s House]. I was 20 years old when we started. People always want to see me with my dad when I’m out. Paparazzi usually ask me “where’s your dad?” I’m like, ‘He doesn’t walk around with me everywhere.’ [laughs]
Your dad is like the king of words of wisdom, but what is the best piece of advice that he has given you?
When I was living at home going through certain issues, it would be like 6AM in the morning and my dad would bust through my room like, ‘I got it for you!’ He would read me whatever quote he found in a book or whatever he thought of. Sometimes when I start to feel too much pressure or not as happy, I’ll just remember my dad saying, ‘Do your best and forget the rest,” because that is all you can do!
What is the biggest misconception about being a Reverend’s daughter?
Well people expect me to not be talented. While I am a Simmons and there are a lot of privileges that come with that, it is really hard to get our family’s attention to pitch something. Think about it, my dad has heard every pitch idea, so we actually have it a little bit harder to pitch something. When we are sitting at home chilling, my family doesn’t want to hear about business. It can be challenging for us like everyone else. We are grinding like everyone else. We have been installed with this incredible ambition that just will not stop; I do not sleep at night. I am working just as hard as everyone else, maybe even harder. I don’t party often [because] I spend my time trying to make my dreams come true.