Lee Soulja was born Lee Simmons in New York City. Raised in the Bronx, he discovered dancing as his biggest passion after winning a dance contest on the kid’s TV show WONDERAMA at age 9. At age 14, he fell in love with a new genre of music called hip-hop that was developing in his Bronx neighborhood, and began frequenting urban nightclubs including The Disco Fever (now The Devils Nest) and The T-Connection where legendary moments were happening right in front of him. Quickly catching on to all the latest dances, especially break-dancing, by the time club fever hit in the 80s, he was exploring Manhattan’s legendary venues including Bentley’s, Studio 54, The Paradise Garage, Bonds International, The Palladium, The Tunnel and The Limelight.
One night while dancing at the Palladium, a friend pulled him onto the center stage platform, where the harder he danced, the louder the crowd cheered. At the end of the night, he was approached by a man representing a new television station called MTV, who invited him to audition for a program called Club MTV. The same night, four other dancers also asked him to join them in a new dance group that promoted events and performed as back-up dancers. With that, the Club Kid/Dancer was born.
Since then, he has traveled the world, danced onstage with famous music artists, appeared in music videos, been featured in films, and performed in two Off-Broadway productions, as well as at the Apollo Theatre, Lincoln Center and other major stages in NYC. He credits his biggest influence as Willi Ninja, whose advice he followed to adopt his nickname “Soulja” as his professional name after recovering from male breast cancer, and who also encouraged him to extend his creative talents to other industries including art and fashion.
Besides his amazing career spanning 30 years as a visual artist, club performer, and promoter, Lee has also become actively involved in community work as an advocate for LGBT Human Rights and for the end of AIDS. He is also a member of the Equality Coalition and other LGBT community boards. He is most proud of the work he is doing as the Owner and Executive Director of NYC Black Pride. Besides producing the annual five day festival of cultural events, Black Pride is working in collaboration with other community groups to create the first LGBT Center in Harlem