Jillian “JJ” Simmons is a veteran radio, TV host and author from Cincinnati, Ohio. JJ has captivated listeners from major cities across the country, including her hometown Cincinnati, Dayton and New York City (where she worked alongside “The Queen of All Media,” Wendy Williams). In addition to being a positive influence on people she meets through her community work, JJ is a proud mother to a beautiful daughter. JJ uses her passion for the “mommy experience” to motivate other single mothers through her a network she created called Single Moms Rock. Although she has always had an innate desire to empower others, raising a daughter has deepened her desire to foster change in the lives of young girls, and inspired her to give birth to JJ’s I’m Me Foundation. Visit jjonthemic.com to learn more or you can follow JJ on Instagram @jjonthemic or also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud, to name a few.
Can you give us a little bit of your background, for example, how did you become a TV and radio host?
Sure! Oh gosh. Well, I am pretty old and I started when I was 16 and that was about 27 years ago. Don’t do the math. Okay? I started off as an intern at a radio station in my city. My high school also had a radio station, which was a rock station, so I used to believe it or not really be into like heavy metal. It is crazy. But I started off as an intern and then that ended up turning into a full time position. And I had the opportunity to work in different places around the country and it’s been an amazing career.
So when did you branch out into influencer marketing?
It kind of ties together, right? I was able to use my platform on the radio and television to build my audience base. And you know, on Instagram, I have about 63,000 or yeah, I think about 63,000 followers. And a lot of those people have been people who have been along with my journey from different city to city. And so I decided, you know, opportunities came about where people were saying, “Hey, you know, well can you post about this on your Instagram?”
And I was doing it at some point just to be nice because they were people that at either events or just products that I really believed in. I will, of course I want to share with the world these great products. And then a friend of mine said to me, “You know, you can get paid for this, right?” And I had no idea. And so that’s how being an influencer came about.
Are there any memorable brand partnerships that stand out, to-date in your mind?
Last year I did a campaign with Tamron Hall, just started a new show on a different network. And I think that opportunity really stands out to me because it was a chance to really pump up someone who I look up to and I think she’s an amazing TV personality and journalist.
And to help someone kick off their brand new show, it was just, it was huge to be a part of it. And you know, outside of the pay, which is great because this is a part of my life now. This is really what I do for a living. The pay was great, but to know that you’re actually really helping someone to grow their brand, someone that you believe in, it’s just, it’s great.
I’m interested in the mission behind the I’m Me Foundation, and also Respect My Crown. Those stood out to me…
So JJ’s I’m Me Foundation came about in 2010. So I have a daughter., She is 13 going on 35 and she’s an amazing kid. But when she first entered into kindergarten, I became concerned about the people around her and who she was looking up to as role models. And I realized as a parent, you know, I can pour into my kid as much as possible, but the fact of the matter is she spends more time at school than she does with me. And so what if all of these people are influencing her and they’re not great people?
I started the I’m Me Foundation to help create better role models for little girls like my little girl. And so we do an eight week program in middle schools and high schools empowering girls to be their best selves. I mean robotics, healthy cooking, goal-setting, like you name it, it’s in the program.
Respect My Crown is a movement that is for women. You know, it helps women to deepen in spirituality, sisterhood, accountability, and service. And you know, just as much as I want to see these girls grow up, and be great role models, I want to make sure that as women we are also being our best selves for our kids.
How do you structure your average day with everything going on?
I’m still trying to figure it out to be honest. You know, I’m a very scheduled person and I am… I have OCD, so I’m very detailed. Everything has a place and a time. And so, for the most part I’m scheduling in my time with my daughter. You know, every week we have family time. We just went to see Star Wars finally as of yesterday. And you know, so we do our weekly activities. She’s also playing soccer.
So you know, hey Alani, I may not be able to make every game but I’m going to make sure that I’m at two games a month if I can’t make four. And I make sure that I don’t schedule anything else because my daughter of course, means the most to me.
And does she also understand that I got to feed that kid because she eats like a grown man. So I got to make sure that I am doing my work and she understands that. And it’s cool too because even as an influencer, you know I bring her on board. You’ll see pictures of my daughter. She’s an influencer in the making, you know.
What advice do you have for prospective influencers? You know, who are looking to maybe just get started, dip their toes in influencer marketing or just influencing people in general like you do through your foundations?
The biggest tip that I can give is just to make sure that you are being authentically you and you are not taking on things that don’t appeal to you. You know, if you don’t eat junk food, then why would you be a brand ambassador for junk food? You know, like that’s not you. Don’t always… You know, the saying is all good money ain’t good money. You know, and it’s very true. You know, you want to be authentic.
So what you’re finding is that you have so many people who are doing these influencer campaigns that aren’t really generally using the products or caring about it. I’ve had to walk away from people that were going to pay good money, but if I don’t value that or it doesn’t fit my brand then I’m going to have to walk away, because I’m not going to lie to the people who follow me. Because that’s what the love me for and that’s why they follow me is because there’s a trust that’s there. They know what to expect when they come to my page. So I guess ultimately my biggest tip is just don’t be afraid to be authentically you and work with the brands that line up with yours.