10 Good Questions with Russell Simmons [Q&A]

Hip hop mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist Russell Simmons is passionate about the arts as the co-founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

Apr 9, 2015
Russell Simmons speaking at the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon

Russell Simmons speaking at the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon. [Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation]

In this week’s 10 Good Questions, we had the privilege to speak with the one and only Russell Simmons about his nonprofit Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Simmons is best known as the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings which revolutionized hip hop and promoted such groups as the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J.
The entrepreneur's talents extend to the worlds of fashion and film, and his passion for philanthropy shines through his many endeavors. Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is a family affair and was founded by Simmons’ two brothers, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons. Based in New York, the organization is dedicated to providing underserved urban youth with exposure and access to the arts in addition to granting gallery and exhibition space to underrepresented artists.
Russell Simmons is a true good doer and sums it best by saying, "good givers are great getters." We couldn't agree more.   

1. What is your organization’s mission?

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s mission is dedicated to providing inner city youth with significant exposure to the arts, as well as to supporting emerging underrepresented artists. In short we believe that art saves lives, I say it over and over again. We plant the creative seeds in the minds of our youth, and see the powerful impact it makes in our communities and society as a whole. We also provide a platform for artists worldwide to further their careers and voices. For 20 years we have been empowering thousands via the arts and expression.

2. What is your position?

Chairman and Co-founder. I co-founded Rush Philanthropic in 1995 alongside my brothers: Danny Simmons, visual artist and community builder; and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons of the legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC.

3. Who inspires you?

Empowerment, creativity, activism, the voices of our communities, the next generation of leaders, our youth, my girls, I draw my inspiration from many places…

4. What is the best part about your job?

Being able to give back and create platforms for others to do the same, whether its through my Rush Philanthropic Foundation or work on boards of other foundations, or through my many businesses; the goal is to give, to give back to our communities, inspire and to keep the cycle going.

5. What is your go-to song these days?

That’s a difficult question, there are so many artists doing an amazing job with their craft and voices. Kendrick, Kanye, and so many others come to mind, I am very proud of them.

6. Do you have a simple trick that can make someone else feel good instantly?

Never thought of it as a trick, and it's probably corny by now because I repeat it so much but I always say good givers are great getters, you want to feel good about yourself, think about what is the last good thing you did for someone else and make it a part of our daily life. Work that trick into your lifestyle, and try to work in mediation too while your at it.

Creativity knows no limits as children of all ages are exposed to art at the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. [Facebook]

7. Gym or yoga?

Yoga, every day. Can’t, won’t miss a day. And if you want to have an opportunity to do good/give back, and be a part of my Rush Philanthropic 20th anniversary this year support my foundation's Kickstarter at bit.ly/RPAF20th, and have the opportunity to do yoga with me if you support.

8. What was your last Google search?        

I think I was searching for more statistics on the inclusion of designers in the fashion industry. Currently working with my foundation and Kimora Lee through a scholarship fund to do more and empower more designers and artists in the fashion industry.

9. Books or movies?

Both but I have been back in LA and working on making more movies and productions so stay tuned…

10. What's your style of doing good?

I didn't know there were styles of doing good. I’ll leave that question to the kids, people, and communities we have been fortunate to be able to support.

Shoshana radiates doing good, driven by a love for people and community. Among many topics, she writes about friendship, creativity and healthy living.