The daughter of fashion designer Kimora Lee and mega-music executive Russell Simmons, Aoki Lee Simmons, is standing behind her decision to pursue a modeling career while attending Harvard University. The 19-year-old came across a comment under her TikTok video from a fan who said she’s too eloquent to be a model. “You’re so articulate and obviously educated,” the user wrote. “How come u chose modeling?”
Aoki responded in an Instagram video, debunking the idea that models aren’t smart or educated. “Well, one, models aren’t uneducated and not articulate,” she said. “But two, I think what you’re really getting at is, ‘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?'”
She went on to add that modeling is something she’s also passionate about outside of studying at the prestigious Ivy League school. “You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at,” she said. “You can be good at something and not want to do it forever, and you can be bad at something and still pursue it.”
“I really want us 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?’” Simmons ranted in the video while encouraging her followers to follow their dreams and their hearts. ”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 added. “You can be two kinds of people in one person.”
She pointed out the idea that earning a degree shouldn’t define someone and that it isn’t the end-all-be-all. “Do whatever you want. Get a degree, don’t use it,” she added. “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.”
At 16 years old, Aoki was accepted into Harvard University in 2019, and her proud parents gushed about the news.
“Yaaaayyyyy @aokileesimmons!! She’s on her way to #Harvard!! We are so proud of YOU!! Such hard work and only 16!” Baby Phat founder and designer Kimora Lee captioned her Instagram post. “You did it! It took years of super dedication and lots of tears! But HERE YOU ARE!!! GO GIRL!!!”