From global pop star to Olympic hopeful, it’s little wonder Cody Simpson’s mum Angie can’t stop singing the praises of her blue-eyed boy.
The last decade has been a whirlwind for the Simpsons, but through it all country girl Angie has always known home really is where the heart is.
“America was incredibly good to us, but the time was right to return to our beloved Gold Coast – it’s our happy place and the kids’ hometown. There’s nowhere quite like it,” Angie, 51, shares exclusively with Woman’s Day from their Queensland home.
“Cody was ready to park the tour bus for a few years in exchange for a less hectic existence. He knew that to achieve his childhood dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer, he had to give at least 100 per cent.”
But it’s clear it’s not always about Cody! The Simpsons’ move is somewhat a family affair – along with Cody, who celebrated his 25th birthday in January there’s his little sister, 24-year-old Alli, and brother Tom, 18, so the venture had to be in everyone’s best interests.
“The kids’ father Brad and I made the decision we would up stumps for a simpler life back on the ‘Goldy’,” says Angie, who, like Brad, was a representative swimmer in the ’80s and ’90s.
Angie has always been incredibly protective of her brood, and like everything in her life, has taken it all in her stride.
“Cody was 13 when he was offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to move to Los Angeles with his music. We thought, let’s go and have an adventure for a couple of years – and ended up staying for 10!” she smiles.
“Everyone assumed we’d stepped into a life of luxury mansions and chauffeur-driven limousines, but the reality was a far cry from any of that. We had a basic living allowance, which got us a hotel room in West Hollywood for the first six months – the kids had to sleep on the floor.
“Once we got a nice house in Studio City, things improved. When it came to touring, we were the modern-day Partridge Family!”
“The record company provided a fulltime teacher. The old bus slept 12 and had to accommodate us all, along with the band and the dancers, and it only had one bathroom!
“After months of touring, including an opportunity to be a support act for Justin [Bieber], I became very good at finding laundromats in every single town we visited across the US, Canada and Europe!”
While Angie rubbed shoulders with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, met President Barack Obama and the first family and regularly dropped by for family dinners with the Kardashians, she says one of the most memorable highlights was a chance to star in a cameo role on The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills.
“I did a couple of episodes with the girls – you can’t believe that’s their actual lives, it’s so incredibly lavish. Off camera, let’s just say it was a real eye-opener!” Angie chuckles.
The mum-of-three, who was born in the NSW town of Tamworth, recalls the time when Cody announced he was dating pop superstar Miley Cyrus.
“She’s an amazing person, and incredibly smart – and a very clever businesswoman,” Angie reveals.
Fast forward several years, and Angie couldn’t be happier with Cody’s current love, who happens to be Australia’s most decorated Olympian, Emma McKeon.
“I adore them as a couple, and they’re lovely friends to boot. Being on the Australian team together makes my heart sing – she’s there for Cody for all the right reasons,” says Angie. “She’s a few years older – her maturity and cool head are the sort of qualities Cody adores in a woman.
“They’re two beautiful souls who fit together so well. With those gorgeous smiles, they’re like a couple of Cheshire cats – as a mum, that makes me so happy.”
But behind the glowing smiles, it’s not all been smooth sailing, and for the first time Angie is ready to speak of the unimaginable heartache they’ve endured as a family since she and Brad called an end to their 25-year marriage.
“What a journey it’s been – like any split, there’s been plenty of tears. We’re now officially divorced and remain committed to co-parenting – our kids have always been the main priority,” she says.
“We’re as tight as ever – we first met 35 years ago when I was a young 16-year-old breaststroker and Brad was a few years older, but he struck me as one of the kindest souls I’d ever known – that hasn’t changed.”
While swimming has once again taken centre stage in the Simpson household, Angie has always made sure Cody’s two younger siblings are given the same life opportunities.
“Young Tom is our quiet achiever – he’s a beautiful classical pianist and is as talented in a different sort of way to his older brother,” she says proudly.
“He wants to write his first full musical – he’s called on Cody to collaborate with him. He’s already making inroads in live theatre, and is in the process of auditioning for a huge production coming to Australia.
“Our Alli is her own person, and she and I are working together on a number of projects. Life is never dull!”
And while the world believes young Cody cannot put a foot wrong, Angie is quick to clear up any misconceptions around her first-born child.
“He won’t like me saying this, but he’s hopeless at all ball sports! Shortly before we left for America, he was turfed off the local soccer team! Hence why he’s a swimmer and not a Socceroo!” she laughs.
Qualifying for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Cody’s decade long-break from the sport he loved so much as a fast-sprinting 10-year-old looks to have paid off.
“He came back into swimming as an adult when many of his peers were hanging up their goggles. It’s an easy sport to get jaded by the time you’re in your early 20s, but in Cody’s case, he was raring to go,” says Angie.
“As a proud Aussie, he had the honour of playing two songs for the Queen at an official Commonwealth event back in 2017 at Buckingham Palace, and something twigged in him that he was ready to get off the stage and back in the pool.”
The entire family, including Brad, Alli, Tom and Angie’s parents Gail and Eric, are jetting off to Birmingham to cheer him on, hoping to see their golden boy rewarded for all the hard work he’s put in.
“Cody is a remarkable young man – he makes me want to be a better person,” Angie says, holding back tears.
“He calls it ‘adulting’ – I call it being a caring soul who thrives on making those around him feel loved and appreciated. He really is one of a kind.”