In 1985 Russell Simmons co-produced and appeared in the film, Krush Groove. includes over ten businesses and three non-profits.Simmons, with his partner Stan Lathan, has also produced television hits HBO's Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam and currently has a development deal with HBO In May 2009, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.His older brother is abstract expressionist painter Daniel Simmons, Jr., and his younger brother is Rev. Def Jam became just one piece in Simmons' corporation, Rush Communications, Inc., which included a management company, a clothing company called Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as Def Comedy Jam, a magazine and an advertising agency.

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He also created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics.

Russell Simmons is the third richest figure in hip hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million as of April 2011. He is the son of Daniel Simmons, Sr., a public school administrator, and Evelyn Simmons, a New York City park administrator.

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate.

He and Rick Rubin founded the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam.

which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.

Simmons is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice TM can do so.

In 2011, he took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests, visiting the protesters at Zuccotti Park often and for many consecutive days.

Simmons is also a longtime supporter for gay rights. In 2015, Simmons criticized his friend, real-estate developer and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in an open letter after Trump called for Muslim immigrants to be barred from entering the United States.

In 2014, Claremont Lincoln University awarded Russell Simmons an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters for his work as chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and for promoting mindfulness, compassion and interreligious collaboration in the public sphere.