"One of the youngest to graduate Harvard and now our cover STAR!!" Simmons gushed about her 21-year-old daughter's latest accomplishment
Kimora Lee Simmons is having a proud mom moment!
She reflected on how Aoki's turn in the spotlight is a "full circle moment" for her. "Karl Lagerfeld was quoted as saying that I was the 'face of the 21st century.' Now, 35+ years later, we see how prescient he was!" she wrote.
Kimora then went on to tell Aoki — whom she shares with ex Russell Simmons — how proud she is of her many accomplishments.
"All that you’ve achieved in such a short amount of time — all through sheer force of will and dedication! One of the youngest to graduate Harvard and now our cover STAR!! We love you sooo much!" she wrote, adding the hashtag #mazel.
Kimora also gave a shout-out to Teen Vogue and its editor-in-chief, Versha Sharma: "Thank you for showing young women of all colors and backgrounds what beauty is and can be!"
In her cover story for the magazine, Aoki opened up about her decision to follow in her mom's footsteps as a model and how Kimora feels about her pursuing a career in the industry. She said her mother is supportive, but has also tried to ground her in the realities of the career choice.
“She’s just like, ‘I don’t want you to be exposed to judgment.’ I don’t know any mom who’d be like, ‘Yeah, go in there and have them measure your butt and tell you what they think,” Aoki shared.
She said Kimora has left it up to her to cover her own work expenses — including travel to bookings — so that she can truly understand the life and struggles of a working model.
“People think I’m getting top-secret information [from my mom],” Aoki told Teen Vogue. “[They] think I can ask about my walk and she’ll have all this insight, and she’s like, ‘It’s a walk, you didn’t fall, it’s fine.’”
Aoki, who graduated from Harvard in May, also addressed the subject of nepotism and whether she believes she's had a leg up in modeling thanks to her parents' celebrity and influence. Her father famously co-founded Def Jam Recordings as well as several successful fashion labels.
“It’s totally true," she said of her privileged position. "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?”
However, when the conversation turned to the subject of "nepo babies" — celebrity kids who have launched their careers on the backs of their famous parents — Aoki insisted that "nepotism is not as much of a thing for models of color."
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Aoki, who is of Korean, Japanese and African American heritage, explained, "I don’t think nepotism functions the exact same way when you aren’t white. Nepotism is still a huge thing, but maybe people of color’s kids don’t get the same excessive hype immediately.”
Aoki and her mom have enjoyed a close relationship throughout the years, and even more so now that they can bond over their shared adventures in modeling. Kimora recently celebrated Aoki as she turned 21, posting another sweet Instagram tribute to her at the time.
Alongside a carousel of photos from throughout her daughter's life, she wrote to Aoki: "Mama loves you so much and I'm so super proud of you! "I know you've been through A LOT and God has kept you and us all covered. From graduating from HARVARD at 21(!!!) to paving your path in New York City modeling! You're doing it all!"
"It's all paying off for you and that is evidenced by the exciting news coming that we will soon share!" Kimora continued, seemingly teasing the 'Teen Vogue' cover. "We're all right here beside you baby riding for you through it all!"
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