Russell Simmons’ daughter, Aoki Lee, defends being an educated model

The second-born daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons was accepted to Harvard University at 16 years old while also pursuing a modeling career.

Loading the player...

Aoki Lee Simmons has responded to criticism about her modeling career. 

The 19-year-old Harvard student is the daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons. As reported by People magazine, Aoki took to TikTok this week to respond to a user who asked why she chose to be a model when she is “articulate and obviously educated.” 

Aoki Lee Simmons theGrio.com
Aoki Lee Simmons, a model and student has said, ” would like to change the idea that you can’t be smart and pretty.” (Photo: Getty Images)

“Why am I going into a field that doesn’t necessarily require a degree, or require a whole lot of book smarts, when I have a lot of education?” Aoki asked in the video. “Well, one, because I love it, and I think we should normalize liking something,” she continued. “You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at.”

She went on to say, “You can be good at something and not want to do it forever, and you can be bad at something and still pursue it.”

Aoki further shared with viewers that she hopes to “move towards a future where young women aren’t being asked this question. Like, not being asked, ‘Why did you follow your more creative passion even though you’re smart?'”

“I would like to change the idea that you can’t be smart and pretty, or you can’t be smart and enjoy your looks or enjoy a creative, beauty- [and] fashion-based career,” she continued,

She also reminded viewers, “You can be two kinds of people in one person.” As theGrio previously reported, Aoki was accepted to Harvard University at 16 years old. 

Kimora announced the exciting news about her then-college-bound daughter on her Instagram in 2019, noting that Aoki was also accepted at Dartmouth, Vassar, Barnard, and others.

L-R Sisters Ming and Aoki Lee Simmons with mother Kimora Lee Simmons in a campaign for Baby Phat Beauty
(Photo: Baby Phat Beauty)

Kimora and Russell also took jabs at the infamous college admissions scandal

“So blessed @aokileesimmons made it into HARVARD and Kimora, Myself or Tim didn’t have to pull any strings or pay anyone to get her in? she made it on her own academic merit,” Russell wrote on Instagram at the time.

Last year, Aoki made her runway debut walking in Pyer Moss’ Paris Couture Week show. She also appeared in ad campaigns for Just Fab and her mother’s Baby Phat line

“Do whatever you want,” she said in her recent TikTok video. “Get a degree; don’t use it. Get a degree; use it later … Get a degree later. Don’t get one — do whatever you want to do! And nothing is a waste of your talent.”


TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today! 

Loading the player...