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‘Nothing Was Wasted’: Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons’ Daughter Aoki Lee Simmons Hits Back at a Fan’s Puzzlement About Her Pursuing Modeling While Studying at Harvard

Aoki Lee Simmons clapped back at critics for pursuing a modeling career while studying at Harvard University. The daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons was accepted into the Ivy League school at the young age of 16 years old. Now, at 19, she’s hitting the books and the runways in New York.

Fashion and beauty are staples of her family’s background so it’s no surprise when Aoki began hitting runways like her supermodel mother. Aoki made her runway debut walking in the Pyer Moss Couture Show as part of Paris Couture Fashion Week in July 2021.

Aoki Lee Simmons posed with her favorite book from author Madeline Miller. (Photo: aokileesimmons/Instagram.)

The student and fashion model defended her career choices in a video response to a TikTok fan who asked, “You’re so articulate and obviously educated…how come u chose modeling?”

Aoki replied, “One, models aren’t uneducated and inarticulate. Two, I think you’re really getting at is why I am 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, right is the question?”

“Well one because I love it and I think she should normalize you liking something,” she continued. “You don’t have to do what you were immediately good at. Growing up I was a great volleyball player because I was tall. I didn’t have to just go into volleyball forever because I was good at it from a younger age.”

According to her Instagram bio, Simmons is also a “poet in training.” She pointed out that “you can be good at something and not want to do it forever” and shared her second reason for calling herself “That Harvard Model.”

“I really want us to move to a future where young women are not being asked this question. I would like to change the idea that you can’t be smart and pretty, be smart and enjoy your looks or enjoy a beauty fashion-based career,” she explained. “One, that requires plenty of smarts and two, it’s OK to be two kinds of people in one person.”

Simmons ended her video by encouraging her followers to always follow their dreams and their passion no matter if it requires a degree or not.

“Do whatever you want. Get a degree, don’t use, get a degree, use it later. Don’t get a degree, never use it. Get a degree later…do whatever you want to do,” she said. “Nothing is a waste of your talent or a waste of your this. If you are enjoying it and you’re happy, and you’re living your life, then whatever path that took you there is the right one. Nothing was wasted.”

Since her fashion runway debut, Aoki has appeared in various editorial ads, including her mother’s Baby Phat brand with her sister, Ming Lee Simmons. In Sept. 2021, she released her first brand partnership with Just Fab Shoes, titled, the Reboot Collection.

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