Gene Simmons' Daughter Recalls Growing Up Around His Rockstar Lifestyle: 'It Was Very Normal'

"It wasn't anything particularly special," Sophie Simmons tells PEOPLE of dad Gene's KISS persona


Growing up as the daughter of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, Sophie Simmons met a lot of well-known musicians — and she didn’t even know it.

“My dad will say, ‘You’ve met that person. They were at the house.’ And I won’t remember that I met them,” Sophie, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I’ll say, ‘I love Christian Aguilera’ and he’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, you met her. You were 10.’ Like, what? I don’t remember! No one expressed to me the importance of these people when I was younger. They were just like, ‘This is our friend.’ ”

Now Gene and actress Shannon Tweed‘s youngest child is a professional singer herself, having released singles “Black Mirror” and “Burn Me Down” earlier this year.

“I was always writing songs my whole life, but it wasn’t something I considered doing as a career just because it was what my family did, and I didn’t want to be compared,” Sophie explains. “I wanted to be my own person. But you can’t help what you’re passionate [about].”

The former Pamona College volleyball player has her dad’s blessing, though. “He’s supportive as long as I’m working hard towards something,” she says. “He didn’t want my brother and I slacking off and doing nothing with our lives. Our choices were we have to work everyday and we have to be involved with some sort of philanthropic endeavor.”

Sophie — who appeared alongside her parents and brother Nick, 29, on A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels from 2006 until 2012 — gives back by running a child abuse advocacy center called Sophie’s Place in Vancouver.

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“I grew up super blessed and I have parents that came from nothing and really made something of themselves and overcame hardships to make sure that I never had to endure any of that,” she says. “I just wanted to pass along those opportunities that I got growing up so other kids have a happy, fun childhood free of all those issues that really shouldn’t happen to children.”

Sophie also advocates for body positivity, a message she supported in the Straight/Curve documentary.

“Growing up being on TV and being a chubby kid was super hard because that just wasn’t the thing,” she recalls. “All the celebrity kids were like models and they still are. If you look at other kids in the spotlight, they’re all super thin, fit models and I don’t know how that randomly happens, but that’s just not my body type. There wasn’t really an icon for me to look at. Now that those standards are changing, I feel like maybe myself and the other women involved in Straight/Curve can be that voice for those people.”

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Another look that was normalized for Sophie as a kid: her dad’s black and white on-stage makeup. “It was something I always saw, so it was very normal for us,” she says. “For me that was just my dad going to work. It wasn’t anything particularly special.”

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