Sophie Tweed-Simmons set for first kiss with big stage
Sophie Tweed-Simmons delivered her first concert in Canada last November with brother Nick at River Rock Casino Resort.
The venue? The intimate Lulu’s Lounge. Now she’s preparing to sing in the 950-seat show theatre.
“Don’t remind me,” laughs Sophie in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “It’s really nerve-racking. A formal concert—I don’t know how people do it. I’m just sweating bullets backstage waiting to go on.”
Bright and articulate, Sophie is the 19-year-old daughter of KISS bassist Gene Simmons and former Playmate Shannon Tweed. She’s best known for her role in the A&E reality TV series Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, which returns May 28 for Season 7. She regularly sings with Nick in a couple small L.A. nightspots, but the shows are informal and a fraction of the Richmond theatre’s size.
Most of her energy these days goes to studying. Sophie is completing a degree in computer engineering and religious studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. Nick, 23, finished his English degree last year. She’s also managing a long-distance relationship and plays on her college volleyball team.
Cameras began following her around at age 12—when Family Jewels made its television debut.
“It’s basically my formative years—becoming a woman in front of everyone, which is embarrassing, and also fun when I look back on it when I’m older. But currently, it’s just embarrassing.”
She’s famous as a result. But it’s a different kind of fame, she explained, and one she doesn’t seek out.
“It’s not like we’re movie stars. My family’s my family, and the people who watch, they know us as family,” she said. “I do this thing that whatever hair colour I have in the currently airing season, I dye it the opposite colour when the season airs. People will often come up and say, ‘You look so much like Sophie, but she’s blond.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I get that all the time.’”
The TV crew is now like family, capturing the good moments and the bad. Small family tiffs under the light of a camera can explode into big arguments, but the series has also given the family reason to connect deeper and say things that would otherwise go unsaid.
“When you’re in an environment where you have to be together for the sake of television, you get to know each other. A lot of teenagers are out at night at this age, but our family is together most of the time because we’re trying to put together this show,” she said. “Being 19-going-on-20, hanging out with my parents, is different than other 20-year-olds who are living in their apartments and off doing their own stuff.”
Earlier this year, Sophie was in Surrey to open Metro Vancouver’s first child protection centre, called Sophie’s Place. She got involved with the project at the request of Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and saw it as a great fit.
Sophie’s charitable nature blossomed in high school. Mom and dad opened the doors for her to experience life in six countries—spending a few months in a different one each year—working in orphanages and spending time with children in need of a heart transplant.
“My parents, when I was growing up, really instilled in me that I’m very lucky to have what I have.”
At the June 1 concert, Sophie and Nick will perform classics such as Etta James’ “At Last” and Dean Martin’s “Sway” along with some blues and jazz numbers—solos and duets.
“It’s just basically some of our favourite songs, ones we love singing and some songs that we love singing together.”
Sophie’s written some of her own music, but isn’t ready to perform it yet. And don’t expect the pair to be singing any of their dad’s music from the decades-old rock band KISS.
“I don’t think I have the voice for it. Nick could, but he doesn’t like the comparison. He doesn’t want to be the son of Gene Simmons forever; he wants to be his own person.”
What’s left to be said? A glimpse inside the Tweed-Simmons household, which will no doubt be a part of the new Family Jewels season.
“You guys should tell my mom to stop adopting animals. She just adopted another dog in Saskatoon this week. That’s six dogs now,” said Sophie, closing out the interview. “She just walks into the SPCA and can’t help herself.”
Sophie and Nick Tweed-Simmons
•June 1 at 9 p.m. at River Rock Show Theatre
•Tickets, $20, at ticketmaster.ca or 1-855-985-5000