Russell Simmons

Active - 1985 - 2018  |   Born - Oct 4, 1957 in Queens, New York, United States  |   Genres - Music, Comedy, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons first branched out into movies when he acted and co-produced in the 1985 rap movie Krush Groove. Essentially a glorified biography of his own life, with Blair Underwood assuming the role of Simmons, the movie didn't score well with critics but was a box-office success. Another hip-hop based movie followed, 1988's Tougher Than Leather, before Simmons assumed full control of Def Jam when co-founder Rick Rubin left. Almost immediately he set up Rush Communications, dipping his hand in nearly everything from a clothing line, to television comedy, to magazine production. At this time Simmons also began producing movies. Pictures he's backed creatively and/or financially include The Addiction, The Nutty Professor and Gridlock'd.

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  • Dropped out of college to begin promoting local musicians, including Kurtis Blow and his brother Joseph's rap group Run-D.M.C.
  • In 1984, co-founded Def Jam Records, which launched the music careers of the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C.
  • Founded Phat Farm clothing company in 1992.
  • Created an umbrella firm called Rush Communications that includes a management company, advertising agency, magazine, television shows and movie production company.
  • Released his autobiography Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money and God.
  • Was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations.
  • Is a vegan and active supporter of PETA.
  • Founded the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, which combines concerts with political rallies in order to encourage young people to register to vote.
  • Founder of the Rush Philanthropic Organization, which provides underprivileged youth with access to study the arts.