Simone on episode 2: Basic Instinct
When Russell told me about Sagen flashing TI during their meeting, I thought I hope she’s wearing cute underwear or kept her waxing appt! No seriously, I thought why were we (Christina and I) getting blamed for this? Then I remembered, Russell always tells me the same thing, "Simone, everyone works for you" so I knew that she needed to come in for a talking to. In her defense, it was a hot summer day and we all had on pretty short skirts! Wardrobe malfunctions can happen, so dress appropriately for work! Russell's reaction was pure comedy.
I became vegan and an animal rights activist about 13 years ago. In the simplest of terms, I am an animal rights activist because I believe that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment. No excuses. No exceptions. Period.
My passion for animal rights affects every relationship I have, of course, most strongly with those who still eat meat, wear animal skins and support any means of animal enslavement including animal research, going to zoos, taking carriage horse rides, visiting aquariums, swimming with captive dolphins, etc. Russell has often called me an "angry vegan" because to be honest, while I can work on people patiently (to a point) who still eat animals and wear leather in guiding them over to the other side, those who dare to wear fur I have ZERO tolerance for. In this day and age, only selfish people wear fur. They know how the animals were killed, they know they can be warmer wearing synthetic coats and yet they still choose vanity over compassion. I promise you if you wear fur and are (un?)lucky enough to be in an elevator with me wearing a fur coat, you will consider yourself schooled on everything from drowning/electrocution/gassing/beatings by the time you get to your floor. Believe me, I'm happy to tell you everything you need to know about the suffering you are proudly wearing on your back. My favorite thing to say as they leave the elevator is, "Excuse me! Your coat is dripping blood." FUR IS DEAD.
Sagen helped me tremendously at my PETA demonstration just by having my back. When you do a demonstration NAKED in Times Square, you make yourself vulnerable to the public, the law, the elements, etc. While this protest was a peaceful one where PETA pulled a permit and we were completely within our legal rights to demonstrate on that busy NYC street, anything can happen at a protest. Sometimes we are harassed by violent hunter types, intoxicated meat eaters, etc. so having a good support system is important. There are always very loud men around too, shouting comments about the fact that we are naked and yes, even trying to slip you their number. Talk about not the time or place! Also that day was one of the hottest in NYC and being under plastic was very hard on me physically. When I got up, my body was shaking and I was very dehydrated. Sagen made sure I had her to lean on and stayed by my side. She only left to speak to tourists and passersby about the horrors of eating meat—which was terrific. I was grateful for her support of me and the cause. That protest made international news...everywhere from California to India had front page cover stories about it and the net was buzzing for weeks. I hope our graphic display changed some minds about eating dead flesh. I believe in my heart we did.
I think the interns can maintain a level of professionalism when they are also curious about learning about the business and key players by just pacing themselves and being good watchers. The best way to learn is by example. I have worked for Russell Simmons since the early days of Def Jam and can usually predict what he wants done before he even realizes it’s needed. If they just keep an eye on our executive office and take clear notes, the rest will fall into place.
See some of Simone's life in photos here.