As a Real Housewives of Dallas cast member and skincare maven, D’Andra Simmons is no stranger to environmental toxins. Despite the recent second season’s many sordid hijinks, which included everything from death threats to sex toy gags gone wrong, Simmons managed to stay above the fray. “Even though I’m on a Housewives show, a huge part of what I do is about being ethical,” she says.
Indeed, as CEO of Hard Night Good Morning skincare, she’s fought against her fair share of questionable ethics. “In the beginning, some of the bigger labs might not have talked to you because you’re a woman,” recalls Simmons. “Most of the people I deal with are men. And they may think, ‘Oh you’re just a woman.’ But I think we’ve been here long enough now that we’ve proven ourselves.”
Whether she’s persevering in the face of patriarchy or developing skincare responsibly, Simmons doesn’t turn the other cheek when it comes to ethics. Launched in 2008, Hard Night Good Morning is vegan and cruelty-free, utilizing wellness secrets developed by her mother Dee, a cancer survivor and matriarch of the line’s parent company Ultimate Living.
Despite Simmons’s family tree of entrepreneurs (her father and uncle were the legendary corporate raiders Glenn and Harold Simmons) her path to business wasn’t linear. After studying political science at Sweet Briar College, she moved to L.A. to give acting a try. But her mother’s cancer diagnosis in 1987 set her on a new course. “I went along with her around the world to meet with nutritionists and herbalists,” she says. “We went to Tijuana to get all these detox infusions and IVs.” But as Ultimate Living grew, so did tensions between mother and daughter. “Because of our strong personalities, I’d work for her for a little bit and then be like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
Simmons’s form of rebellion was to move to Washington, D.C., as an employee of George W. Bush’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. While she was eventually offered a role as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency, Dee ultimately proved less volatile than nuclear waste management. “My mother said, ‘You’re never going to have another chance to have your own business,’ so I came home.”
But these days, Simmons is politically engaged as ever. “The best thing about Housewives is that it’s allowed me to give my causes a much bigger platform,” says Simmons, a UNICEF board member and ambassador for Glenn Beck’s Nazarene Fund. And with a resumé like hers, there’s no Housewives mess Simmons isn’t equipped to handle. “I went to a women’s college,” she says. “When Brandy put a dildo in my bag, I didn’t bat an eyelash.”