Reality hits little Simpson sister Ashlee
By César G. Soriano, USA TODAY
Ashlee Simpson is not content to follow in the footsteps of her famous big sister, Jessica.
Like Jessica, Ashlee is a singer and actress. And MTV is hoping that, just like sis, she'll be a reality TV star. The Ashlee Simpson Show debuts Wednesday (10:30 ET/PT).
But that's where the similarities end.
"I feel like I have my own identity and I stand on my own," says Simpson, 19.
Ashlee is more punk than pop, more grunge than glam, quixotic not neurotic. Last month she dyed her blond hair dark brown with a home coloring kit.
"I'm a tomboy with a girly twist," she says by phone. "Jess is more shy, and I'm more like, 'Woo hoo! Let's get this party started!' "
While Jessica is known for her pop gospel sound, Ashlee's inspirations are Janis Joplin, Chrissie Hynde and Pat Benatar.
Simpson's debut album, Autobiography, hits stores July 20. Simpson co-wrote all the songs. Her first single, Pieces of Me, is climbing the charts. (It's No. 25 on the Airplay Monitor mainstream top 40 chart.) She'll spend the summer promoting her CD with later plans for a concert tour.
But being the kid sister of a pop princess naturally leads to comparisons. She even wrote a song about it, Shadow.
"I don't feel like I'm in (Jessica's) shadow anymore. We're actually like the closest we've ever been now," Simpson says. "I feel like that song is sort of thanking her for helping me find my identity."
Fans will get a closer look with her show, which follows her as she records her new album. MTV is committed to at least six episodes. The series premieres right after the third-season premiere of Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica (10 p.m. ET/PT).
"At first, Jessica said, 'Are you sure you want to get into this?' I really had to let go because having these cameras in front of my face helped me grow up a little bit, not be so jaded."
The cameras also caught her breakup with her longtime boyfriend, actor/singer Josh Henderson.
"It's actually good for me to see that now and say: 'Oh, that's why I'm not with him. Because he's a jerk!' "
The Texas native says her newfound celebrity status hasn't changed her.
But Simpson is already discovering the price of newfound fame: gossip. A recent tabloid rumor claimed she tried to steal Paris Hilton's boyfriend, Nick Carter. "No! That is SO random. When I heard that, I was dying laughing," she says.
"I'm actually not dating anybody. (Singer) Ryan Cabrera and I were dating, but we broke up. Right now I'm 19, I'm single and I'm truly enjoying it."