Ashlee Simpson's Bittersweet career success

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Growing up in the shadow of a beautiful, glamorous and hugely successful older sister can't have been easy, especially when that sister was none other than American sweetheart Jessica Simpson.

However, instead of fading into the background, Ashlee Simpson decided to grab herself a slice of the fame.

She took note of Jessica's success, and after seeing her fame increase monumentally through reality TV show 'Newlyweds', she followed her on the reality TV route with her own programme, 'The Ashlee Simpson Show'.

The show followed Ashlee as she penned music for her triple-platinum-selling debut album 'Autobiography', and charted her success as the record entered the US Billboard chart at number one in July 2004.

But rather than resting on her laurels after her initial success, Ashlee again took note of Jessica's career, and turned her attention to the big screen in August 2005, when she appeared in an independent film called 'Undiscovered'.

Her second album 'I Am Me' followed that October, and again went straight in at the top of the chart.

In 2007, Ashlee made the remarkable decision to try her hand at musical theatre, and was soon treading the boards in London's West End where she starred as Roxie Hart in the musical 'Chicago'.

However, the 23-year-old singer's career hasn't been totally smooth sailing, and she is certainly no stranger to controversy.

In October 2004, the singer appeared on US show 'Saturday Night Live', where she was scheduled to perform two songs. After performing her first track 'Pieces of Me' without any problems, Ashlee took to the stage to perform her second song 'Autobiography'.

Before she started singing, the vocals to 'Pieces of Me' started to play, and Ashlee fled the stage. She later re-appeared on the show and blamed the fiasco on her band, saying they had mistakenly played the wrong song.

Since then, Ashlee has admitted the problem was actually due to heartburn: "I had severe acid reflux, and the day of 'Saturday Night Live' I had completely lost my voice. It's crazy, but you move on. Things happen. I'm a human being.

"I can't cancel something like 'Saturday Night Live'. It was silly of me to do it, silly of me to blame the band, but I was just so embarrassed."

Ashlee also received criticism in the summer of 2006, when she underwent rhinoplasty to correct a bump in her nose. The singer had the operation shortly after giving an interview to Marie Claire where she said women should celebrate their beauty and embrace their uniqueness. By the time the magazine was published, Ashlee had already undergone the procedure.

Ashlee has since admitted she had the surgery as she thought it would improve her looks, but is unsure whether it worked.

"I used to look at a beautiful girl on the cover of a magazine and think I could never be that," she said.

"Surgery is something that everybody should think about for a really long time. Once you know it's something you really feel comfortable with, then to each their own. I was never really unhappy with how I looked, and I don't think I am more beautiful than I was before. I just see the same old goofy girl I see every day."

Goofy or not, Ashlee has never been short of admirers and is rumoured to have dated 'Desperate Housewives' actor, and Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriend, Josh Henderson, musician Ryan Cabrera and Chris Raab of reality show 'Viva La Bam'.

However, it wasn't until she met Fall Out Boy rocker Pete Wentz, that she found her 'Mr. Right'.

The couple - who recently married in a ceremony in California in front of friends and family - admit they had an unconventional start to their relationship.

"The first time we really hung out she flashed me!" Pete laughed. An unabashed Ashlee added: "I lifted my dress over my head but it was love at first sight!"

Ashlee's father, Joe, officiated at the 'Alice in Wonderland' themed ceremony, while Jessica was maid of honour. Proving they have no intention of becoming a stuffy or traditional married couple, the pair chose Pete's dog to serve as their ring-bearer.

Ashlee also revealed she can't be without her new 27-year-old husband, and even goes on tour with him and his band in order to spend some quality time with her spouse.

"I'm pretty good at going on the road with him," she said. "Cleaning stuff up and being the good little girlfriend. We watched movies. Everybody likes to go to the front and hang out watching CNN."

Rumour has it that the happy twosome will soon be joined by their very own bundle of joy, with sources claiming Ashlee announced her pregnancy news at the wedding reception.

With a rock star husband, a (possible) baby on the way and a glittering career already under her belt, some might argue that Ashlee has already eclipsed her sister's fame. But what's next for the younger Simpson sister?

Well, it seems Ashlee is determined not to let her professional life flounder as she concentrates on her personal life.

She released her third album 'Bittersweet World' in the US in April, which entered the Billboard chart at number four, and is hoping for similar success when it is released in the UK on May 26.

Keen to establish herself as a constantly-evolving artist, Ashlee has left her Avril Lavigne-esque sound behind, and has concentrated on different styles of music to come up with 'Bittersweet World' - an album she describes as "kind of dancey, kind of rock, kind of '80s".

Helping her achieve her new sound are uber-producers Timbaland and Chad Hugo, one half of legendary duo The Neptunes.

Despite being nervous before she started work with the producers, Ashlee now has nothing but praise for both men. She said: "It's incredible working with Timbaland. His whole camp is fantastic - there's always a bunch of people in the room being creative somehow."

The pop starlet is equally as gushing about Chad, adding: "He's just great to watch. I'd come up with some random melody and he'd just create this insane beat right away."

The Timbaland-produced lead single 'Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)' seems to be an order to the press and paparazzi to leave her alone, much like Britney Spears' recent record 'Piece of Me'.

Does Ashlee feel the press is too intrusive?

"There is a point where you go 'Aaaaah, stop!'" she says. "I got engaged and suddenly there's like a million people outside my house and I'm like: 'This is not your business.'

"People have asked what my dream day would be - and it would be one where I'm not followed by photographers. That's always intense, because I'm a down-to-earth girl and I like to be at home and relax and walk around and hang out with my friends. I'm not one of those people who goes: 'Hey take my photo while I'm out grocery shopping!'"

Despite this frustration with the media, Ashlee admits she is generally happy with her life.

"Life is really good right now," she said. "I'm young. I love my life and I enjoy my time off too. I want to celebrate all that."

Sassy, sexy and never afraid to speak her mind, it seems Ashlee Simpson has managed to step out of her sister's shadow once and for all, and she couldn't be happier.

By Hannah Ferrett

© BANG Media International

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