Baby Phat Queen
"My life is so crazy and so over-the-top; (it's) an E! True Hollywood Story, except without being tragic." Kimora Lee Simmons.
Former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons is best remembered as the co-host of the syndicated talk show "Life & Style" and one of the judges for the UPN television series "America's Next Top Model." The wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is also famous for being the CEO and creative director for the Baby Phat clothing company. The 6' tall, black-haired, brown-eyed Afro-Asian statuesque stunner is also an occasional actress. She has appeared in such films as The Big Tease (1999), Beauty Shop (2005), Rebound (2005) and Waist Deep (2006). The all-around diva also released a book in 2006, entitled Fabulosity.
Childhood and Family:
In St. Louis, Missouri, Kimora Lee Perkins was born on May 3, 1975 to Korean-Japanese mother Kyoko Perkins (a.k.a. Joanne Perkins), a former Social Security Administrator, and African-American father Vernon Whitlock Jr., a former federal Marshall who after serving time in jail works as a barber in St. Louis. Kimora was unusually tall as a child, having reached the height of 5'10" by her 11th birthday. And because of her height and Asian ethnic ancestry, her friends often called her "Chinky Giraffe." Kimora is a graduate of Lutheran North High School in St. Louis County, Missouri.
On December 20, 1998, Kimora married hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. They have two daughters: Ming Lee Simmons, born January 21, 2000 (Kimora’s best friend Tyra Banks is her godmother), and Aoki Lee Simmons, born August 16, 2002 (both are models for Baby Phat Kids Collection). Russell Simmons filed for divorce in March 2006.
Unusually tall and exotic looking Kimora Lee Simmons landed an exclusive modeling contract at age 13 with top fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld to model for his Chanel collections. By the age of 14, Kimore, whom Lagerfeld dubbed as "the face of the 21st century," had gracing the runways in Paris and landed more prominent modeling jobs with such top designers as Yves Saint Laurent and Patrick Kelly.
She later branched out in hosting and acting. In 1999, she hosted “One World Music Beat,” produced by future husband Russell Simmons, and in September 2004, she became a co-host of the syndicated talk show that was geared toward young adult females, “Life & Style.” As for acting, she first appeared in director Kevin Allen's comedy film starring Craig Ferguson, The Big Tease (1999), followed by a guest role as a model named Shamira in an April 2001 episode of NBC/WB sitcom “For Your Love.” The subsequent year, she appeared as herself in hip-hop focused feature Brown Sugar, alongside Taye Diggs, Mos Def and Queen Latifah. Next, she could be seen in the 2005 comedy films Beauty Shop, starring Queen Latifah, and Rebound, starring Martin Lawrence. She also played a small role in the 2006 action film Waist Deep, alongside Tyrese Gibson, Meagan Good, Larenz Tate and The Game.
Since March 2002, Kimora has become CEO and creative director for the Baby Phat clothing company, founded by her husband Russell as a counterpart to his Phat Farm clothing line. The company has grown into a vast success, both financially and culturally. Starting out as a collection of baby tees, it has developed into a full line of clothing and accessories, including lingerie, handbags, leather, jewelry, faux fur, bedding, mobile phones and footwear. The clothing line’s devotees include Beyonce, Pink, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. And although Kimora and Russell ended their marriage in 2006, they still work together on the clothing lines.
In 2003, Kimora joined the panel of celebrity judges for the debut season of Tyra Banks' competitive reality show aired on UPN/CW, “America's Next Top Model,” but leave the show after one season. She also appeared in the video for Ginuwine's "In Those Jeans," and shared a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, as a co-producer of her husband's Def Poetry Jam. Additionally, Kimora is a playable character in the PlayStation 2 video game Def Jam Fight for NY.
Kimora had a brush with the law in July 2004 when she was arrested outside her New Jersey estate and charged with possession of marijuana, eluding police, careless and imprudent driving, and driving with a broken brake light. Two years later on February 21, Kimora released a book entitled Fabulosity, published by Judith Regan of HarperCollins's Regan Books. She also has designed a new range of jewelry, called the Hello Kitty Collection.