Aoki Lee Simmons has defended her decision to pursue modelling while obtaining a degree at an ivy league university after fans questioned the career choice.
Simmons, 19, who is currently attending Harvard University, addressed the criticism she has faced in a video posted to TikTok, where she responded to one viewer who questioned why someone who is “so articulate and obviously educated” would want to be a model.
In the video, Simmons, the daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons, began by pointing out that “models aren’t uneducated or not articulate”.
“Why am I choosing modelling, even though, as you say, very complimentary, I’m ‘articulate and educated,’” Simmons began. “Okay well, one, models aren’t uneducated or not articulate.”
The 19 year old then went on to address the criticisms surrounding her decision to pursue a career that “doesn’t necessarily require a degree or require a whole lot of booksmarts when I have a whole lot of education”.
“Well, one, because I love it. And I think we should normalise you liking something. You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at,” Simmons continued, adding that, just because she was good at volleyball growing up doesn’t mean that she had to pursue a career in the sport. “You can be good at something and not want to do it forever and you can be bad at something and still pursue it.
“Hard work will beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
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Simmons, who reiterated that she loves modelling, then expressed her hope that, in the future, women are “not being asked this question”.
“Like, you’re not being asked: ‘Why did you follow your more creative passion even though you’re smart?’” the student said of her hope for the future. “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 beauty, creative or fashion-based career.”
Simmons also took the opportunity to remind her followers that “you can be two kinds of people in one person,” a concept she said refers to herself.
“I love [modelling] and I really don’t want this to be a question we’re asking women in 10 years,” Simmons concluded. “Do whatever you want. Get a degree, don’t use it. Get a degree, use it later. Don’t get a degree, never use it. Get a degree later. Do whatever you want to do.
“Nothing is a waste of your talent if you are enjoying it, you’re happy and you’re living your life. And whatever path took you there was the right one, and nothing was wasted.”
Simmons’ video, which has been viewed more than 6,000 times, has been met with support from her followers, with many praising the student for standing up for herself.
“I absolutely love your perspective!” one person commented, while another said: “Love this, you go girl.
“I love this generation because they don’t follow the traditional rules of life,” someone else wrote.
Simmons, who was accepted into Harvard when she was 16, made her runway debut in 2021 when she modelled for Pyer Moss.
In an Instagram post celebrating the experience, she thanked designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, writing: “Thank you so much for including me, trusting me to do your genius justice, and giving me my first haute couture runway experience that I will never forget.”