Aoki Lee Simmons Doesn’t ‘Regret’ Speaking Out About Dad Russell Simmons’ Alleged Verbal Abuse

Family Business

“It was playing out in, like, a silent bubble,” the model said in a new interview

As Teen Vogue’s latest cover star, Aoki Lee Simmons detailed her life as a model, Harvard graduate, and daughter in one of the most famous families at the intersection of hip-hop and fashion. In June, she called out her father, Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Records and manager of the foundational rap group Run DMC, for becoming erratic and abusive towards them. In her new interview, she said, “I don’t regret it.”

Her public condemnation of Simmons came after Aoki’s sister Ming posted a tribute to their mother — model and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons — on Father’s Day. When Russell followed with a subliminal message of his own, “Stop telling fathers they should have fought harder to see their children and start asking mothers why he had to fight at all,” Aoki accused her father of verbal abuse, saying, “he’s been awful to me for years.” 


On her Instagram Stories at the time, she shared text messages of Russell disparaging Kimora and accusing her of stealing from him (he lost his 2021 case against her he waged for this claim), as well as a recording of a FaceTime call of Simmons behaving angrily. “This is not someone who will accept help,” Aoki said. Simmons has faced scrutiny for a series of more than a dozen sexual assault and misconduct allegations since November 2017.

Aoki Lee Simmons told Teen Vogue she’s glad she spoke up for herself, especially since her fractured family dynamic was not exactly a secret. “Part of it was already out there,” she said. “There were reasons I thought it was reasonable to publish, because it was playing out in, like, a silent bubble.” After calling out her dad and the misogynistic trolling she faced in the aftermath, she said she disconnected from the internet and hit the New York City pavement (she had been crashing with her sister Ming there while booking modeling gigs around the world for fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris). “If you don’t look at it, it’s not at all real.”