There is nothing about the sweet looking girl dressed in a dowdy waitress uniform that would make a stranger look twice.
And that is exactly how she wants it to be. For 20 years the girl who quietly serves dinner to diners in an Atlanta restaurant has played hide and seek with the world’s media.
She has become an expert at not being noticed. The last time she was photographed in public was in 2009. I wonder if I would even recognize her if I hadn’t met her eighteen years earlier, back when she was a little daddy’s little girl, clinging to her infamous father, OJ Simpson.
This is Sydney Simpson – though nobody here knows her by that name. Now she is Portia.
Low key: Sydney Simpson (last pictured here in 2009) has kept on the move and changed jobs constantly in her bid to shake off her notorious family history and the public's curiosity about her life
She has spent the past two decades of her life on the run and hiding as if she herself had committed a crime when her only 'mistake' is her parentage and events well beyond her control.
It is 20 years this month since OJ Simpson was tried for the brutal double murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.
The trial was a media sensation. For the first time cameras were allowed inside the courtroom and suddenly witnesses became stars of what could be labelled the first reality TV show.
America was transfixed by the spectacle that began on 17 June 1994 with that now infamous slow-motion car chase as television helicopters filmed OJ’s white Bronco being driven by his friend along the LA freeways while OJ sat in the back, a .357 Magnum to his head.
Different identity: These are the first pictures of Sydney Simpson since 2009, in two stills taken from footage filmed for an upcoming Daphne Barak documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of Nicole Simpson's murder. Sydney now goes by the name Portia at the Atlanta restaurant where she works
Daphne Barak writes: I chatted with the shy waitress. Her colleagues in the busy restaurant said she keeps to herself. They described her as ‘very quiet, as if she has a problem she can’t talk about'
His ultimate acquittal was as sensational as the news that the Hall of Fame running back turned bit-part actor had been charged in the first place.
It was the trial of the century. We know what happened to OJ next. Despite the criminal court’s ‘not guilty’ verdict, he lost a civil suit brought by the Goldmans and Browns and still owes them $33million.
Today he’s in jail, guilty of an armed robbery in Vegas and serving nine to 33 years in a jail in Nevada.
But so little is known about what happened to the lives of the other 'victims' of this story - OJ’s children: Arnelle, 46 and Jason, 44, from his first marriage to Marguerite Whitely and Sydney, now 28, and Justin, 25, Nicole’s children.
Twenty years on they are not easy people to find and for a reason. They have lived with the legacy of their father’s trial all this time and perhaps the most profoundly affected, and affecting, is Sydney.
Arnelle suggested, that as part of my upcoming special on the 20th anniversary of Nicole Simpson's death, I should visit 'Jason's new restaurant, where Sydney is helping him' where he works as a sous-chef.
Daddy: Arnelle Simpson said OJ's children still love him but at turns claimed they did and didn't visit him in jail
Daddy's girl: Sydney, pictured here with OJ and brother Justin at the grave of their murdered mother, Nicole Brown Simpson. Sydney, the youngest of the children and who was in the house when her mother was murdered, was close to her father but has drifted from him
I chatted with the shy waitress. Her colleagues in the busy restaurant said she keeps to herself. They described her as ‘very quiet, as if she has a problem she can’t talk about'.
I had met Sydney many years before when I had an interview with her, father following his acquittal. We would get to that evening later.
Later as she carried on her work I heard her giving her name to a diner, telling them: ‘My name? My name is Portia'.
She works in the same restaurant as her half-brother Jason, who is a cook by trade. Surprisingly, the people she works with did not even know these two are related.
Their caution is well founded from the experiences of their relatives. OJ’s sister, Shirley, told me that her father used to be a cook and explained that she had once run a catering business.
She said, ‘But people cancelled reservations with us when they heard I was OJ’s sister.’
Everybody touched by the OJ case carries a stigma, sadly.
'People cancelled reservations with us when they heard I was OJ’s sister'
- Shirley Simpson
But for Sydney it seems that more than any of the others her life was so irrevocably transformed by the murders and the trial because she was the youngest.
She was just eight and her brother Justin was five on the night of the murders. She was in the house asleep. Could she really have slept through such violent attacks? Many have wondered over the years.
I met Sydney first in 1996 when I conducted the first interview with OJ Simpson after he was acquitted.
It was in his house in Brentwood, Los Angeles. OJ was trim and alert and he came across as a loving father to Sydney and Justin. His sister Shirley was there as well.
They gave every impression of being a warm united family, recovering two years after the trauma.
But one thing stands out more than any other during that first interview. As OJ was telling me about how he had suffered, the kids became visibly upset because they couldn’t find the family’s pet dog.
They were panicked and worried and OJ seemed only impatient and dismayed that he was not the center of attention during the search.
Shocking: Sydney was upstairs sleeping when her mother, Nicole, was murdered. On one occasion it was alleged that she, during a public fight with her father she had blurted out, ‘You murdered mom'
Big brothers: Sydney lives with brother Justin, (pictured left in 2002) and works alongside half-brother Jason (pictured right) in the same Atlanta restaurant
Secrets... Arnelle Simpson posing with Daphne Barak at the new juice fasting resort in California, SecretFast, where they met. Arnelle told Daphne about how the children have coped ahead of the 20th anniversary
The next time I met Sydney was 1998 when I spent a couple of days filming ‘A Day In A Life with OJ'.
We filmed him having breakfast with a bunch of old pals who supported him despite public opinion that was overwhelming against him. Then we headed to the golf course.
Afterwards we returned to his home. I still carry the image of Sydney with him on the sofa. She was in his arms, looking happy and safe. The outside world, the headlines the opinions and theories about her father all looked so far away, irrelevant in this father-daughter moment.
Years later Sydney made some headlines of her own. On one occasion it was alleged that she, during a public fight with her father she had blurted out, ‘You murdered mom'.
Then in January 2005 she was taken into custody after being violent and resisting arrest.
Today Sydney shares an apartment with her younger brother, Justin. He is a bus boy and she sometimes does catering. Other times she helps out as a waitress.
On one occasion it was alleged that Sydney, during a public fight with her father she had blurted out, ‘You murdered mom'
Her family is proud of the real estate license she recently got having passed the exam.
She has managed to keep a very low profile. Ironically, her efforts to avoid public attention have only made her a more mythical figure to the public and a the subject of frenzied speculation.
And that is her ongoing challenge – living a life, hidden in plain sight.
Her sister Arnelle told me how difficult it has been for all of the siblings to maintain any sort of stability or job.
Arnelle told me she worked ‘for a rapper called Hash for a while and then produced some fashion shows’ but that is all past tense.
In the early days OJ’s sister, Shirley Baker and her husband Benny tried to provide some sort of ‘normal’ family home for the kids.
Earlier she had told me, ‘We were there to send the kids to school in the morning, with a meal and a smile.’
It was tough because OJ paid them a minimal fee, and the only reason they could manage to shuttle between their own modest home in California to Miami as often as they did, was because their daughter Terry is a flight attendant who could get them flights almost for free.
Sold off: Arnelle couldn't meet the modest payments on OJ's Florida mansion - even though said she had power of attorney over his $25,000-a-month NFL pension. It has now been sold, apparently to OJ's fury
Family affair: OJ Simpson's daughter Arnelle and his niece Tracy, her partner Sam, Erbil Gunasti and Daphne, discuss OJ's legacy over dinner
Today money is still a big issue for the OJ kids.
Over 4 days, at the new juice fasting resort Secret Fast in California, Arnelle and I talked and hiked and she revealed just how desperate their situation is.
Arnelle told me that she is now looking for a new job, new location, new life.
I had read reports that they were in danger of losing the house in Miami her father bought in a bid to escape the millions of dollars in civil judgment brought against him in Los Angeles.
The reports also claimed OJ was angry that Arnelle had been spending his $25,000-a-month NFL pension that he was allowed to keep.
But Arnelle described a loving father-daughter relationship and kept saying: 'I hope my father will call me this Sunday,' while talking about her need to change her life and relocate. She said: 'I need to talk with him.'
'I love my father, I love my father... Yes, he did something wrong'
- Arnelle Simpson
She said: ‘The home is gone! All the money went to attorneys anyway. There was no point to keep it. It went for for closure. It's gone'.
Intriguingly, she elaborated: 'I have the power of attorney for my fathers affairs while he is, you know, in his "situation" ..I need to meet with the attorneys, I need to go to the bank back in Florida and see how I can move(to another state) ..'
OJ still owes the Goldman family $33m from the civil action.
So how do they feel about their father?
'I love my father,' Arnelle told me. 'I love my father,' she repeated before adding: 'Yes, he did something wrong'.
She was referring to his latest brush with the law in Vegas - the reason he is in a Nevada jail. Hinting, though, that his punishment is too harsh.
The contradiction between her different moods continued. I couldn't understand how she could sit telling me there was no money and then in the next breath excitedly share plans for a 50th birthday extravaganza for her cousin, Tracy, across three days in Vegas. She were scheduled to fly there, dine in a luxury hotel and then stay at a lavish mansion which she claimed belonged to a friend of OJ.
'Would you visit your father as well?’ I asked trying to make sense of it all.
First reality TV stars: America was transfixed by the spectacle that began on 17 June 1994 with that now infamous slow-motion car chase as television helicopters filmed OJ’s white Bronco being driven by his friend along the LA freeways while OJ sat in the back, a .357 Magnum to his head
Haunted: The murder of Nicole and Ron Goldman has haunted OJ's family for the last 20 years and forever disrupted and hampered their lives. Each of them ask 'what could have been'
Defiance: Despite the devastation the murder had on their finances, prospects and anonymity, Arnelle arrogantly exclaims: 'We don't need anybody. I don't need help... I am OJ Simpson's daughter!'
Arnelle told us, how they used to visit him: 'He was wearing jeans, we could spend four hours with him, some family time. He was in a good mood. It wasn't that bad.'
I remarked that OJ's sister Shirley told me that she was scheduled to visit him soon and asked that when she was due to be in Vegas for a birthday party would she take the opportunity to visit him?
But she said she wouldn't, yet didn't elaborate.
Arnelle said she was thankful for not having kids because she said, ‘I don’t have any baggage'.
But doesn't she? At another moment, when we rest under the pergola in Secret Fast, she said: 'We have been living with 'this' for 20 years... Me, my brothers, my sister...'
She showed me photos of her with Sydney and Justin and proudly said: 'Look, Justin is 6ft 2ins. And Sydney has been losing weight.
'You know, when the whole thing happened to Paris (Michael Jackson's daughter, trying to kill herself) I called them. I told the family: 'Hey, it could have happened to us... to Sydney and Justin, but we brought them up okay.'
Then she said: 'For 20 years... everybody has had an opinion about you.'
Unlike her younger siblings, Arnelle still remembers the good life that comes with being a celebrity daughter. She has the memories to make a painful comparison between what life had to offer her back then and today.
She said of her privileged life in LA: 'Back then we were the first black family in that neighborhood in Brentwood!'
At another moment, she said: 'I kept in touch with few of the "names" from before.'
She looked so pre-occupied, with so much weight on her shoulders from a sort of father's curse she has been carrying around for two decades.
Yet another moment, she screamed with much anger: 'We don't need anybody. I don't need help... I am OJ Simpson's daughter!'
From The Daily Mail - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2644271/OJ-SIMPSON-EXCLUSIVE-False-names-hounded-jobs-broke-haunted-life-luxury-OJs-children-reveal-curse-father-20-years-Nicole-Simpsons-brutal-death.html