Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,187 covers and 55,435 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Prince William, the Queen and Camilla as You've Never Seen Them Before! Check Out Their Unusual New Portraits
- The Style Top 5: Reese Witherspoon Channels Elle Woods,
Steal the Styles from Wet Hot American Summer and More
- Kendall and Kylie Jenner Show Off Their Shoe Line, Admit to Problems With Confidence
- How Scott Disick May Have Blown a Second Chance with Kourtney Kardashian
- Ashley Williams on Giving Birth. In Her Living Room. On the Floor!
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- March 20, 2000
- Vol. 53
- No. 11
I Wanna Be a Diva
Closing the Gap on Britney: Jessica Simpson Gets Her Slice of the Teen-Pop Pie
Luckily, Simpson, now 19, eventually thawed. Nowadays, as a contender for the Blonde Pop Princess crown—ironically, her look-alike rivals are none other than Aguilera and Spears—Simpson boasts a gold album (Sweet Kisses), a Top 10 single ("I Wanna Love You Forever") and a beau who's a certified pop prince: Nick Lachey, 26, of the boy band 98 Degrees, with whom she recently cut the hit duet "Where You Are." Her star has risen more slowly than those of Spears and Aguilera, partly, Simpson suggests, because she chose ballads over bouncier pop. "Hopefully I've differentiated myself from the whole up-tempo dance thing," she says. "I want people to fall in love with my voice before my image."
Lachey fell in love with her voice, and more, when Simpson performed at a TEEN PEOPLE party in Florida early last year. "I watched her sing and saw the way people responded," he says. Within weeks of meeting her, Lachey was telling fellow band members, "I'm going to marry that girl." Though there are no wedding plans as yet, the couple's romance ignited last March when Simpson began touring with Lachey's band. But not without a few speed bumps: "There were so many girls backstage at their concerts," recalls Simpson. "At first I was like, 'I don't know if I like this.' But Nick said, 'Trust has to be the core of our relationship.' "
For his part, Lachey is learning patience. At age 12, Simpson vowed to abstain from sex until marriage. "My virginity is something I stand strong in," says Simpson, a devoted Christian who neither smokes nor drinks. And Lachey stands with her. "It's not always easy," he says. "But I do respect it. Virginity can be cool and sexy."
Keeping her priorities straight is Simpson's style. She and her sister Ashlee, 15, were raised in Dallas by parents Joe, 42, a Baptist minister (now Jessica's manager), and Tina, 40, who styles her daughter's wardrobe. Jessica's dreams of stardom were already in place at the age of 5, when she sang "Amazing Grace" at her father's church. "I'd go to concerts and think, 'That's exactly what I want to do,' " she says.
But after failing to win her Mouseketeer ears in 1993, Simpson was demoralized. "I wanted to give up," she says, "but my family kept me going." At 13, she signed on with a New Jersey-based gospel label, which led to her first CD. When the company folded after three years, Joe put his ministry on hold to market Jessica's music. Around that time, Simpson starred as Cassie in a production of A Chorus Line at J.J. Pearce High School and was crowned Homecoming Queen. By senior year, career demands forced her to complete her credits by mail.
In August 1997, eight months before getting her GED, Simpson wrangled a meeting in New York City with Tommy Mottola, the Columbia Records mogul who had launched Mariah Carey's career. "It was the most nerve-racking moment of my life," Simpson says. "I was supposed to sing two songs. After the first one, he said, 'Okay, you can have a seat.' I thought, 'Oh no, I blew it.' " But Mottola signed her on the spot.
Sitting poolside at her newly purchased four-bedroom Mediterranean-style home in Calabasas, Calif., Simpson, who recently signed a deal to develop her own TV series for The WB network, ponders her prospects in the cutthroat teen-music market. "I think there's room for everybody," she says. But then, Simpson isn't everybody. "I want to be a diva," she says. Then adds quickly, "Like people-totally-respect-my-music diva, not diva like carry-my-diet-Coke-around."
Monica Rizzo in Los Angeles
- Monica Rizzo.
August 01, 2015
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!