Aoki Simmons: Learn About Russell Simmons's Daughter

The rising star has made Harvard history, all while dominating in the world of fashion.

BYDemi Phillips
Prabal Gurung - Front Row - February 2023 New York Fashion Week: The Shows

Aoki Lee Simmons is the daughter of record executive Russell Simmons and fashion icon Kimora Lee Simmons. She’s just made history by becoming one of the youngest Black women to graduate from Harvard University. She was accepted into the institution at the age of 16. Aoki Simmons has also followed in her mother’s footsteps and is a model. 

Most recently, the rising star has been in the spotlight after some shocking details were revealed about her father, Russell Simmons. He is one of the most prolific figures in the history of Hip Hop as the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and creator of Phat Farm. Despite the legacy both her father and her mom built, Aoki Lee’s own career is steadily on the rise, and she’s working hard to cement her name in the world of fashion. Along with her elder sister, Ming Lee, Aoki has gained fame on social media, particularly Instagram and TikTok. With her degree in the bag and the world ahead of her, there’s no stopping Aoki Lee Simmons. 

Read More: Russell Simmons’ Daughter Vows To Ignore Trolls Who Make Her Feel Insecure

Early Beginnings

Ming, Kimora and Aoki Lee Simmons during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2004 - Baby Phat - Runway at Gotham Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Aoki Lee Simmons was born on August 16, 2002, to Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons. At the time of her birth, her mother’s brand, Baby Phat had begun to enjoy widespread success. Straightaway, Aoki Lee and her sister Ming Lee became the faces of the brand. They became famous at a young age and were known for always closing out Baby Phat shows with their mother on the runway. 

By 2007, Aoki Lee joined her mother and siblings on the reality TV series, Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane. The show focused on her mother’s home and work life as a mogul. Aoki’s father Russell Simmons also made appearances on the show. Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane ran for four seasons, and ended in 2011. 

Read More: Kimora Lee Simmons’ Baby Phat Apparel Has Made A Comeback With Forever 21

Aoki Lee Simmons’ Rising Career

Several years after her mother’s reality show came to an end, Aoki Lee found herself gaining fame as a social media influencer. She has joined her mother on several humanitarian missions and frequently travels the world. Furthermore, she has found success in the fashion industry in her own right. In 2022, she made the decision to add modeling to her portfolio while she continued her studies at Harvard. 

Her decision to pursue modeling came under fire from some, who wondered why she didn’t want to put her education to a different use. Aoki Lee gracefully responded, sharing that modeling is something she loves, and is willing to grow in the profession. “Well, one, models aren’t uneducated and not articulate,” she said in an Instagram post. “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?”

Aoki Lee further reiterated that she’s interested in changing the narrative about models not being smart, or educated women not feeling sexy. “Well, one, because I love it, and I think we should normalize liking something. You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at,” she continued. “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.”

She has since walked the runways at Pyer Moss and Carlton Jones. Alongside her modeling, she has designed a line for the popular direct-to-consumer brand, JustFab. She’s currently signed to Nomad management. 

Read More: Oprah Makes Russell Simmons’ Daughters Big Mad Following Doc Departure

Making Harvard History

When she was just 16 years old, Aoki Lee was enrolled at Harvard University. She became one of the youngest Black women to achieve this feat. On May 29, she took to Instagram to celebrate her graduation, days after her sister Ming Lee’s at NYU. Aoki Lee also graduated with double majors, and her mother Kimora shared the news on her own social media page.

Read More: Kimora Lee Simmons: A Fashion Icon And Business Mogul

Aoki’s Relationship With Russell Simmons

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 19: Russell Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons attend Champ Medici And Fam Lounge at Marquee on June 19, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

While many around the world celebrated Father’s Day,  Aoki Lee Simmons called out her father Russell’s alleged abuse over the years. The entire situation kicked off after the record mogul posted a subliminal message taking a jab at his ex-wife Kimora. It wasn’t long before Kimora Lee took to her Instagram stories and posted a series of accusations against him. 

Aoki Lee Simmons also took to social media to detail the decline in her relationship with her father. While she insisted they started out having a strong bond, she insists that something has become terribly wrong with Russell. On Instagram Live, she detailed a series of abusive behaviors that her father has exhibited in recent times while stating that she’s been scared to speak out for a long time because of her father’s influence. 


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