Emily Simpson: The Stunning Transformation Of The Real Housewives Of Orange County Star

Real Housewives of Orange County star Emily Simpson has a long list of accomplishments. She's graduated college and law school. She's passed two bar exams. She's welcomed three kids and helped raise a total of five along with her husband, Shane. And somewhere along the way she made it through the arduous Real Housewives audition process, landing herself a prime role on one of Bravo's biggest shows. But Emily Simpson is not one to rest on her laurels.

In 2020, she made reality show headlines by achieving some impressive weight loss goals, undergoing one of the more dramatic, non-surgical Real Housewives body transformations we've seen. But her transformation hasn't just been in 2020; Emily Simpson has been a work in progress since she was born. From growing up riding horses in the Ohio countryside to cheerleading, modeling, and marrying young, Emily has changed a lot over the years. Here's a look at how she went from country girl to OC TV star over 40-plus years.

Emily Simpson's parents divorced when she was 6 years old

Though Emily Simpson's parents were married when she was born, the marriage did not last long. According to a blog post she wrote for Bravo, her father left when she was only 6 years old and her sister, Sara, was 3. To make matters worse, he left their mother for another woman, driving Emily's mom into a deep depression from which she never recovered. "As a child, my mother cried a lot," she said. "She talked a lot about my father and blamed him for all of her troubles."

Given her past, Emily is eternally grateful that her children have not had the same fate. In a Father's Day Instagram tribute to her husband, Shane, Emily called him "the best dad possible," captioning an adorable photo of him walking hand in hand with their two small sons. "I grew up without a dad," she said in the post, "but my babies ... will only know the unconditional love of a dad."

Emily Simpson grew up with a single working mother in rural Ohio

Emily Simpson's parents were married when she was born, but divorced shortly after. Raised by a single mother, Emily had one sister, Sara, and the girls lived on a 12-acre farm near Madison Township in rural Ohio, according to a profile in the Journal-News. "All we had was each other," Emily told the newspaper. "We had each other's backs our whole lives."

She enjoyed the simple things a lot of kids do who grow up in the country, telling the Journal-News she spent her time running around barefoot, riding horses, catching frogs, and raising tadpoles in a fish bowl inside her house. Her small, but closely knit family added to the small town upbringing, which is why she told the newspaper she also always dreamed of moving somewhere bigger. "When the opportunity to live in California came, I jumped on it," she said in the same story.

Emily Simpson grew up in a small town, which her family helped found

You can take the Real Housewife out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the Real Housewife. This, apparently, is part of why Emily Simpson still makes annual trips back to Middletown, Ohio. "I feel more like myself here when I hang out with family and get away from all of the Orange County hype," she told the Journal-News during a trip home. "I feel I'm not jaded by the opulence of Orange County," she said. noting that she's held onto her "Midwest values."

She's also brought her sons Keller and Luke along, so they could see the vastly different world in which their mother grew up. Emily's family roots run deep in Middletown, too; she is a direct descendent of town founder Daniel Doty. Notably, Emily's sister, Sara, didn't stray far from home and lives nearby in Waynesville.

While in town, Emily is a fan of stopping at The Triple Moon Coffee Co., which owner Heather Gibson told the Journal-News will have a wall of fame with Emily and director Ron Howard, who stopped in once while location scouting.

Emily Simpson was a cheerleader in high school

Emily Simpson has always had an attraction to the spotlight, even as early as high school. She attended Madison High School in Madison, Ohio, before heading off to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, according to the Journal-News. Adding even more to her Mellencamp-esque Midwestern motif, Emily was, of course, a high school cheerleader. We learned this titillating tidbit when she posted a picture of herself in full high school cheerleading attire on her Instagram stories in September 2020 (via Bravo).

The picture is in black and white, so it's hard to tell if Emily's hair color is the same. But, as she captioned it, she has the "same big hair" that she does today, though big hair was to be expected in the early '90s. No word on if her daughter Annabelle has any thoughts on following in mom's footsteps, but if a picture of her daughter striking a sassy pose that Emily posted on Instagram is any indication, it's definitely in the realm of possibilities.

Emily Simpson was a model in her 20s

Before anyone with a front-facing camera and a good filtering app could post pictures and call themselves a "model," Emily Simpson was the real deal. A fact we learned... on Instagram (via Bravo). Ironic? Sure, but it was equally as fascinating when, during the early March 2020 days of COVID lockdown, Emily dug up some of her old modeling headshots. "Had a dream last night I was 25," she wrote over the Instagram Stories post, "so found some photos from my 20s."

Though Emily didn't really specify if she got any actual gigs during her modeling career, the Insta trip down memory lane was a fun look back at 2000s fashion. "Love that early 2000s chunky highlight look," she commented with a couple of crying-laughing emojis. She was, indeed, donning the era's popular thick highlights, in addition to some short, face-framing highlights that Bravo attributed to a Kelly Clarkson influence. She also posted pictures as a strawberry blonde and as a stark brunette, the latter in a colorful shoot with a pink coat and blue classic car.

Emily Simpson attended the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego

According to her LinkedIn profile, Emily Simpson graduated from Miami University in 1998, with a bachelor's degree in education. She then moved on to the Thomas Jefferson School of Law from 2003 to 2005. The San Diego law school may not immediately ring a bell, but rest assured it was, in fact, an accredited institution when she attended. We point this out because Real Housewives of Orange County co-star Shannon Beador seemed to question the school's validity during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live. According to Reality Blurb, when answering a question about her friendship with Tamra Judge and Kelly Dodd, Shannon Beador, who's had a stunning transformation over the years, said, "I went to law school when it was accredited, Emily. Just saying." The school later lost its national accreditation in 2019.

Taking exception to the swipe at her alma mater, Emily did what any good reality celeb does and took to Twitter to defend herself. "The law school I GRADUATED from IS accredited ... You're a law school [dropout]. But thanks for playing," she said. Lesson learned: Don't talk trash to Emily Simpson.

Emily Simpson passed two bar exams

In a December 2019 tweet, Emily Simpson mentioned she passed two bar exams on the first try. This is true, as, according to her LinkedIn profile, she has passed both the California and Utah bar exams. (Her husband, Shane, as you may remember, failed his first time out). After passing the bar, Emily worked full time as an attorney. As of October 2019, she has worked as a copyright lawyer in Orange County, according to Bravo.

But as Emily is not currently practicing full time, she's devoted herself to working with California Innocence Project, a legal aid organization that helps people who've been wrongfully convicted. Simpson told The Daily Dish she first became interested in California Innocence Project after watching TV shows and documentaries about wrongfully convicted people, and she reached out to the organization when she found she had more time on her hands. She currently volunteers on the project's board reviewing cases, and hopes she can plan a fundraiser in the near future.

Emily Simpson was married at age 26 and did her own divorce

Real Housewives fans may be surprised to learn that Emily Simpson's marriage to Shane Simpson was not her first marriage. Bravo reported that, during an interview with the Daily Dish podcast, Emily dished that she'd actually been married when she was 26. Her first husband was a Marine who was rarely home, and the marriage barely lasted five years. "I was in law school; he was far away, I think he was in Afghanistan, and things like that," she said. The divorce, she said, was amicable, and since they had no children or property, the fresh law school grad did the divorce herself. Emily was, in fact, one of her own first clients.

She did not provide a name for her ex, and she said she hasn't been able to locate him through traditional internet searches. He was a high-ranking person with the Marine Corps, and Emily said he's probably still serving, if she had to guess. "If he was killed in action or something, I feel like there would have been an article when I Googled him," she said.

Emily Simpson met Shane at work and married quickly

Emily Simpson worked with Shane Simpson at a real estate consulting company for about three years, according to an interview she did with Bravo. And yes, he was her boss. "Was it 'me-too'-y?" host Andy Cohen asked Emily on Watch What Happens Live when trying to find out who made the first move. Emily said no and that their relationship was mostly confined to flirtatious Google Chat exchanges until Steve finally asked her out. Or, rather, until he asked her to marry him.

"Prior to getting married, Shane and I did not date," Emily told Bravo. After Shane and his first wife divorced, he and Emily had an online flirtation, and then out of the blue, he messaged her one day, "Want to get married?" And Emily went for it.

"I'm 32, I want to have kids, he's a good dad ... let's go," Emily told Cohen of her thinking at the time. She and Shane married a few weeks later. They married quickly, Emily noted, since Shane is Mormon and needed to be married before becoming intimate with someone. 

Emily Simpson lived in Utah with Shane before moving to Orange County

According to Bravo, Emily Simpson and her husband, Shane, did not actually meet in Orange County, but rather in Utah. And though the Southern California sunshine has treated her well, Emily has definitely expressed interest in returning to the Beehive State. "We will move back to Utah eventually ... I need more land, more space and horses," she said in an Ask Me Anything thread (via Bravo). If you don't smell a crossover with Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, you may want to blow your nose.

Horses are apparently a major relocation factor for Emily, as evidenced by an August 2019 Instagram post that depicted her standing next to a chestnut horse. "Happy #throwbackthursday to when life was much simpler," she wrote in the post's caption. "I woke up every morning to the view of #Utah mountains and I rode horses almost every day." She went on to detail how horses have helped her through difficult times and how riding has been therapeutic for her.

Emily Simpson's sister was a surrogate mother for her

Emily Simpson and her husband, Shane, make no secret of the fact they used a surrogate for their three children Annabelle, Luke, and Keller. But not everyone is aware that the surrogate was Emily's sister, Sara, who agreed to help them out not once, but twice! The story was news long before Emily was ever famous, as Butler County's Journal -News wrote a feature on the sisters in 2016. The story said the Simpsons has spent thousands of dollars and were "emotionally broke" when Sara visited the couple in Orange County for Thanksgiving in 2011.

Sara offered to be a surrogate for the struggling Simpsons, telling the Journal-News, "[Emily] had gone through all the options. It was hard to sit back and watch and I was perfectly capable of doing it." And in February 2013, Annabelle was born. In 2015, the Simpsons wanted another child, and they asked Sara again. Her response?  "Hell no." But after the Simpsons tried to go through a surrogate agency, they found the process too difficult, and they asked Sara's help again. This time, she carried twin boys Luke and Keller, who were born in 2015.

Emily Simpson joined Real Housewives during a midlife crisis

People handle turning 40 in different ways. Some get plastic surgery. Some buy sports cars. Some audition for reality TV shows and turn into celebrities. Such was the case for Emily Simpson, who decided arguing with other women in their 40s in front of millions of people was how she wanted to spend her fifth decade. "When you're in those 40s, you have the midlife crisis and you're kind of like, 'Sure, I'll do that!'" she told Page Six.

Her interview with Page Six went on to chronicle her long, painful audition process for Real Housewives of Orange County, a show that's secured some of the most bingeable seasons of Real Housewives, taking the whole thing with "a grain of salt" and seeing where it went. She kept getting further and further in the process, to the point her husband, Shane, was starting to have second thoughts. Then, on her birthday no less, Emily got the call asking if she wanted to be a Housewife. "What can someone call and tell me on my birthday next year that would be better than that?" she asked.

Emily Simpson had some plastic surgery done

Bucking the stereotype of Real Housewives as living testaments to the miracles of plastic surgery, Emily Simpson opted to get her breast implants removed and a reverse tummy tuck in fall of 2020. During an Instagram Q&A she revealed this was mostly for health reasons, as her arthritis and joint pain had been getting worse since she'd gotten her silicone implants four years earlier. She learned of BII (Breast Implant Illness) and opted to get her implants completely removed after her doctor told her that even saline implants had silicone shells, according to Bravo.

After the surgery (which was documented on Instagram by surgeon Dr. Siamak Agha), Emily wasn't shy about showing off her new (or old?) chest. After thanking her Instagram followers for all their well wishes during an Oct. 20, 2020 video, Bravo reported she panned the camera down to her breasts and said, "That's my real tatas. No implants anymore."

Emily Simpson worked hard to lose 10 percent of her body fat

Though Emily Simpson is an accomplished attorney and mother, one of the things she's best known for is her dramatic body transformation. She lost 15 pounds in 2020, according to Bravo, and lost about 10 percent of her body fat, according to an Instagram post from her trainer Paulina Taylor Hefferan. The post contained a before and after picture of Emily, with the latter showing a sharper jaw line and more pronounced cheekbones.

The secret to Emily's success? Trainer Heffernan revealed she had Emily up at 6 a.m. three to four days a week for workouts and put her on a strict diet. Emily expanded on the diet she followed during an Ask Me Anything thread on Instagram, telling a fan her best weight loss tip was not eating after 6 p.m. and drinking lots of water (via Bravo). She has also revealed that she doesn't really count calories, telling an Instagram follower (via Bravo), "I just keep staples in my refrigerator at all times: ground turkey, spinach/lettuce, eggs, avocados, tomatoes, shredded carrots, black beans, corn tortillas, salsa," noting she avoids dairy products.