Not only is Aoki Lee Simmons a Harvard graduate, she is also a stunningly talented model. Recently, the 21-year-old covered Teen Vogue to talk about modeling and her famous family. Take a brief look below at some of the things that the young renaissance woman had to say.


Of course, modeling is ingrained in Lee Simmons’ blood. Being the daughter of model and Baby Phat entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons and Def Jam Records co-founder, Russel Simmons, how could it not be? However, so is academic excellence and Lee Simmons said that at first, instead of modeling, Harvard was the main target in her radar.

“My mom and I are very academic,” she said. “It was like, my mom and I are planning to go to Harvard.”

Lee Simmons graduated high school at 16 years old and started her freshman year at the prestigious university. Most teens at 16-years-old are still trying to narrow down their application lists. Lee Simmons remembered that when she got to Harvard, many had heard that there was a “baby” on campus, but not many knew that it was her.

“Someone said to me in my dorm when we were moving in — we were just chatting — ‘I think someone in our year is, like, 16,’” she recalled. “Wow, a baby, wonder where they’re at. No one actually ever knows it’s me.”

Lee Simmons excelled at the university, studying political science (“government” at Harvard) and the classics. The talented scholar had no desire to model professionally. Yet, it was actually Harvard, that opened the door officially to the runway.

An alumnus reached out to her via the school data base. At first, Lee Simmons wasn’t really feeling it, but the scout told her that it could be “an efficient student job, commuting to New York from Cambridge every few weeks, while she continued to pursue her studies.”

Lee Simmons started booking shows like Sergio Hudson at New York Fashion Week and the Pyer Moss’s couture show. Yet, the Tommy Hilfiger 2022 Factory that took her career to to the next level. Other brands began to take notice and the 21-year-old knew that she wasn’t turning back.

“I’m going to be a model,” Lee Simmons told her mother, as it was important to her to have her mother’s support.

She continued, “We’re not going to do — right now — grad school or law school. I’m not going to do politics or… all the other things floating around. I’m going to do this full-time for a bit.”

Lee Simmons admitted that she truly is the quintessential “nepo baby”. As a matter of fact, she made Vulture’s list of Top 20 nepo babies.

“It’s totally true,” she said about being a Lee Simmons. “I had no idea if I’d do modeling without my family, without their name helping me. I sometimes think when I look at shows or shoots — if I had done it, and it was that bad, and I was not me, would I get another shot? Would I have had the chance to develop the way that I have?”

Lee Simmons of course has much more to say about her career and famous family. To read the interview in its entirety, click here. We unquestionably cannot wait to see what amazing things this truly gifted young woman will do next.


Photo Credit(s)/Featured Image: Aoki Lee Simmons Instagram; @whighfield/TeenVogue

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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