Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American entrepreneur, producer and author. The Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, he cofounded the hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons had a net-worth estimate of $340 million in 2011.
Simmons was born and raised in Queens, New York. His father is a public school administrator and his mother is a New York City park administrator. His brothers are painter Daniel Simmons, Jr., and Rev Run of Run-DMC.
In 1975, after graduating from August Martin High School, Simmons briefly attended the City College of New York in Harlem where he met a young DJ/Bboy, Kurt Walker, who influenced him to participate in the hip-hop phenomenon.
In 2014, Claremont Lincoln University awarded Russell Simmons an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters for his work as chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and for promoting mindfulness, compassion and interreligious collaboration in the public sphere.
Simmons co-founded Def Jam in 1983 with Rick Rubin who sold his share of the company for $120 million to Universal Music Group in 1996. In 1985 Russell Simmons co-produced and appeared in the film, Krush Groove. Simmons’ company, Rush Communications Inc. includes over ten businesses and three non-profits. Simmons, with his partner Stan Lathan, has also produced television hits HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam and currently has a development deal with HBO In 1996, Simmons co-produced the hit film The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy.
Russell Simmons has been vegan since 1999 and advocates Ahimsa and veganism, citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits. Simmons is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him with the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award.
In 2004, Simmons organized thousands of protestors and Hip-Hop celebrities in front of city hall demanding change of the harsh sentencing of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Simmons became Chairman of Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 2002. In May 2009, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In a similar vein, Simmons is a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation, and was honored at their 2011 gala dinner. Simmons officially endorses the second Muslim Jewish Conference 2011. Together with Rabbi Marc Schneier he served as the official patron of the conference held July 2011 in Kiev, Ukraine. In 2011, he took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests, visiting the protesters at Zuccotti Park often and for many consecutive days.
Simmons is also a longtime supporter for gay rights. He encourages marriage equality. In 2011, when the retail corporation Lowe’s withdrew funding from the show All-American Muslim, Simmons promised to pay the Learning Channel for any revenue lost.
In 2012, Simmons supported Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich’s re-election campaign, appearing with the politician at various speaking events. In November 2013, he pledged support for New York’s mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in recognition of his support for animal rights.
In 2015, Simmons criticized his friend, real-estate developer and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in an open letter after Trump called for Muslim immigrants to be barred from entering the United States.
Simmons describes himself as a Christian yogi, with a love and respect for all religions. Simmons practices a method of Yoga known as Jivamukti Yoga, which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.
Simmons is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice TM can do so.
1. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Pick people who are interested in what you’re interested in.
2. Art allows people a way to dream their way out of their struggle.
3. I think when you’re very dedicated to something and you’re engaged fully, you become a giver.
4. If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you become a more successful person. In other words, if you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money.
5. If you give a good thing to the world, then over time your karma will be good, and you’ll receive good.
6. Art is a way to express yourself and through that you can escape a bad situation.
7. I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have.
8. Judgment of the people in the situation is not helpful. How can you help them is the question.
9. As I get, I give. Giving as you get is critical. It has everything to do with being happy for yourself, and making others happy is the cause of making yourself happy, and it’s the cycle of giving and getting.
10. Respect your parents. What they tell you is true. Hard work, dedication and faith will get you anything. Imagination will drive itself. You can get anything you want, but you have to have faith behind all your ideas. Stick to your goals and have an undying faith.
image + biography source: wikipedia.