From our first introduction to her through the groundbreaking reality tv show Run's House, we've been rooting for Angela Simmons. Whether co-owning a fashion line alongside her sister Vanessa or revamping the legendary publication Word Up!, she has always shown herself to be an unstoppable creative and business force. Adding mother, executive producer, fitness enthusiast, and, most recently, owner of the beauty brand Simmons Beauty to her resume seems like just another chapter in the ever-impressive story of the brand that is Angela Simmons.
While many succumb to the pressures of the spotlight, Angela continues to rise in it, and fans of the businesswoman can expect to see more of her this year than ever before. As WeTV's Growing Up Hip Hop prepares to return with Angela and her siblings in tow, she's finally ready to step out on her own with her new series, Just Angela. The show promises to be a more in-depth look at the more intimate parts of her life and a vehicle to support emerging Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
The ever-busy Simmons took time to chat with 21Ninety about this new season of her life, why she's finally telling her story her way, and what's next for her brand.
Iman Milner: We've grown up with you and have watched you for many years now. Who is Angela Simmons today, and what aspects of that can we expect to see on Just Angela.
Angela Simmons: I'm a mother. I'm a philanthropist. I'm an entrepreneur. There are so many parts of me. As I grow, I have a lot more to share with the world. The difference on this show, rather than Growing Up Hip Hop, it's more behind the scenes. It's a step further into my life. I feel like I am able to actually share that with everyone. I am finally at a point where I can be an open book and let people watch along as everything unfolds. This show is pretty organic, and it's a really cool space to see me in.
IM: Why was it important for you to take a solo approach with this show?
AS: Partnering with Kin and Aspire was just a perfect opportunity to tell my story. I felt like it was finally time. I do it myself on Instagram, but this is a better way to present it. I have a really incredible team behind me, helping me to narrate the story of what's going on in my life that no one really sees. This is a much more detailed diary of what's actually happening on top of what I already share on my own.
IM: How do you block out the noise and stay true to Angela?
AS: It can definitely be difficult if it's part of your day-to-day to narrate your own story on social media, and everyone has something to say. It can be overwhelming, but you have to keep marching forward. Regardless of where you are in your life, someone will have an opinion on what you should be doing. For me, through prayer and meditation, I am constantly checking in with myself to make sure I am in the right space. You're allowed to change, and you're allowed to grow whenever you want. People get stuck in one spot because they don't feel that they can evolve or change or get so used to one way that they haven't changed. I make sure I am doing what I love and not what someone's making me do.
IM: Why was it important for you to showcase other Black-owned businesses for this show?
AS: It was a no-brainer for me. I want to support my community and where I come from. My culture. Our roots. It's important that we support one another. Being that I have my own business and I am an African American woman in that field, it's important that I help other brands. We have to hold each other's hands. I love and respect hustling entrepreneurs—especially ones that look like me.
IM: You've had a lot of your own personal challenges over the last few years. How have you made time and space for your healing while balancing all of your ventures?
AS: I believe healing is a constant thing. The first part is knowing you need to heal because a lot of people don't even know they're struggling. The second part is sticking through it. It's a day-to-day process. With the things that I've been through in my life, some days you feel like you've overcome it, and then other days you feel it creeping back up on you—just allowing myself to be in the process. I can be hustling, but if I need to take some time to clear my mind and hit reset, I do that. Sometimes, we all need a reset because there is so much going on around us that sometimes you just have to allow yourself to feel what you're feeling and fix what needs to be fixed.
IM: So, we're both Virgos…
AS: Oh, so you already know how it goes.
IM: Right. The trap of perfection is always right there—how do you do away with trying to appear perfect or presenting a perfect image to the world? Your Built Not Bought movement seems to be a call to embrace your authentic body and self.
AS: It's called acceptance; it's best that you get to a point in your life that you love yourself as you are. I learned this some time ago, but you have to love where you are at that moment. Then you start to work on the pieces that you may not think are incredible. You do that over time.
With Built Not Bought, I try to explain to people, it's more of a mindset for me. Everything comes from your mental space. If you build your mind up, you can have whatever you want. People think I am saying 'don't get surgery,' and that's not it. If you feel like you need a mommy makeover, by all means, do it, but make sure mentally you're okay before you walk through the doors, so you're not relying on plastic surgery to fix what's underneath. There's always something deeper before that step even occurs. I just rely heavily on the mental aspect. Many people think I am working out to have some trainer-type body, but no, I like my curves! I like the healthy but I workout because it helps my mind. It helps my day go so much better. That's what I care about the most.
IM: What do you think people will be most surprised to find out about you on Just Angela?
AS: I keep a lot of things to myself, but it's going to be more vulnerable. I get to speak on what's happening in my day-to-day. They may just find out that we are all very much alike. Often, people will put those of us in the spotlight on a certain pedestal, but we all bleed the same. Once you realize that you're not alone, you realize how similar we all are.
IM: What do you hope people take away from the show on a larger scale?
AS: I want people to take courage, strength, and confidence away from the show. Things that are going to help inspire them. My whole purpose for doing it is to promote positivity. That's what I'm about, and I want to be able to spread that to other people. It's hard sometimes, and you need somewhere to turn for advice or to lean on for information. I just want everyone to live their best life, whatever that looks like, and I hope I can help with that.
IM: And what's next for the Angela Simmons brand?
AS: I am focusing on Simmons Beauty, my skincare line, it's almost been a year, so I have a lot of cool stuff planned for that. Fitness. And I am doing more with Built Not Bought. I have some things coming that people can purchase. I'm going to continue to do all the things I am doing, but I am including you guys on the journey. I want whatever I have available for myself to be available to anyone interested in living a similar lifestyle. With my time here on earth, I want to do that.
Just Angela premieres on Aspire on Tuesday, March 30th at 9 pm EST