Kimora Lee Simmons: 'We're a Normal Family, Doing the Best We Can'

12/04/2009 at 05:00 PM ET
Courtesy Page Six Magazine

Appropriately titled Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, Kimora Lee Simmons‘ reality show depicts an extravagant lifestyle filled with the glitz and glamour of a successful fashion designer.

However, looks can be quite deceiving, a fact made evident in the latest Page Six Magazine.

In a new interview with the magazine, the mother-of-three insists that her life is, first and foremost, dictated by the demands of motherhood.

“My family is the most important thing to me,” she states.

“I’ve never missed any type of performance — not one recital, not one karate belt. If there’s a toe being tapped, or a tune being whistled, I’m there.”

Click below for Kimora’s thoughts on ex-husband Russell Simmons, her relationship with husband Djimon Hounsou, what presents her girls will not be receiving and more!

While those events are often captured on film — her daughters Ming Lee, 9 ½, and Aoki Lee, 7, are regular stars of her show — Kimora insists that she still prefers to keep some family matters private. When she divorced the girls’ father Russell Simmons and reached a custody agreement granting her full custody and $40,000 in child support each month, Kimora was less than thrilled when her ex-husband released a statement to the media addressing the speculation regarding their arrangement.

“I hate that,” she confesses. “He has such a big mouth. It drives me crazy and it makes me want to thump him in the side of his head.”

That said, Kimora adds that, recently, Russell has seemed to curb his habit of talking to the press.

“Lately, he’s been very good, but when you have such a big mouth and then people don’t know what they’ve heard, and then they write something else, and it’s not accurate…It just kind of drives me crazy.”

Noting that she is “much more private than people would believe,” Kimora has learned to let go and instead focus her attention on what’s important. “You can never control other people,” she says. “You can only control yourself. I have definitely learned that. And then I just let it go.”

Maintaining her stance on privacy has carried over into her marriage with actor Djimon Hounsou. After crossing paths during an Oscar party in 2006, the pair instantly hit it off, albeit not romantically. “We struck up a normal conversation,” Kimora recalls. “We totally hit it off, but it wasn’t with that thought in mind.”

However once the two began “hanging out” and learning more about one another, the sparks began to fly. “He was telling me about his life, but I wasn’t inquiring for any certain reason,” she shares. “It didn’t have [a romantic] feeling to it, and then it ended up being so meaningful. Kind of weird, huh?”

Although they may not have initially envisioned a life together, Kimora laughs that she couldn’t help but ask from the get-go whether kids were a part of his plan!

“Yeah! I did! Right away! I said, ‘Do you have any kids? I have two! Do you want any kids?’ Not like, ‘Do you want kids with me?’ But just in general. It’s just a normal life question.”

Kimora and Djimon eventually tied the knot in a commitment ceremony in Africa. “We’re married,” she insists. “It happened in Africa, in Benin. The girls were there and we had a wonderful time. It was very calm, family-motivated, and spiritual.”

Having recently welcomed their first child together — son Kenzo Lee, 6 months — Kimora cherishes her evolving relationship with Djimon, whom the girls lovingly call Baba. “[We] enjoy discussing everything from politics to wine, and we have enriching, private, happy, balanced, lives together,” the former fashion model says.

“That’s probably the thing that would shock most people: We do things like go to the grocery store and have fun with our kids. We’re a normal family, doing the best we can.”

Her steadfast dedication to her personal life is even more so now with the upcoming Christmas holiday, which will mark the family’s first year as a party of five. “We do everything together,” she raves. “I know we have a little bit of a different life, with all the running around and the TV show, so I want to make sure we’re even more grounded.”

And while the girls’ may be wishing for some top-notch gifts this year — Aoki, who is “obsessed with Coco Chanel” is hoping for fashion books, while Ming has hinted at a list of electronics — Kimora says there is one present that won’t be arriving in her household until the girls are teenagers.

“We don’t do phones. Not until they’re much older,” she notes. “They don’t have TVs or computers in their rooms either. They watch less than an hour of TV a week.”

All the Christmas craze is balanced out by the family’s morning tradition of giving back to their community. After opening presents Kimora, Djimon and the kids will head out to deliver food to local charities.

Traditions are important to Kimora, who has carried on one that’s especially close to her heart. As a child Kimora received an engraved ornament from her mother each year, and now, in turn, gifts one to each of her children every holiday season.

“It was just me and my mom growing up, so that was our tradition. I still have every ornament from every year. They’re all so neat,” she notes.

Source: Page Six Magazine

— Anya

Kenzo wears Robeez Cozy Ankle Booties in Tan ($39).

FILED UNDER: Babies , Celeb Style , Kids , News , Parenting

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Showing 46 comments

french gigi on

so happy they got married….they are lovely!

Annie on

Yay for Kimora for not letting them watch more than 1 hr of TV per week! That is AWESOME!!!

Rachel on

I’m happy they got married too… now when is she going to stop using Russell’s last name. My gosh she doesn’t even like the man enough to give him partial custody but she keeps his last name? That makes sense.

Electra on

My sister hasn’t turned on a tv in a year. She watches all her shows on the computer like many people from the internet generation. Most young people I know really don’t watch TV. The christmas portrait is nice, kinda busy looking and Djimon is a beautiful man he should smile.

Nicole on

Kimora says they had a “commitment ceremony.” Are they married symbolically or legally? Just saying you are married does not make it so, just as calling someone your husband does not make him your legal, binding husband (at least in the States.)

Are they legally married?

Shame on Page Six Mag for saying Djimon is her husband if he is not.

Chris on

Nice interview. Kimora seems much more grounded now.

brannon on

What difference does it make if they have paperwork? Odd statement. Those babies are so adorable. (Plus, she and Russell get along and co parent very well. They have both given several interviews to that account.) Perhaps she has kept Simmons because of her daughters. That’s why I kept my last name.

marfmom on

Nicole, Page 6 called Djimon her husband because that’s what SHE calls him. That’s what matters. I get the impression it might not have been a legal ceremony (in terms of the US), but whatever.

cubanita on

If she legally marrys, she probably loses her alimony.

CJ on

Russell always talks about how good of a mother Kimoria is and he doesn’t seem to have a problem with their custody arrangement. I see nothing wrong with her keeping his last name. That’s what Kimora is known by professionally and she has a line in that name (the KLS collection).

I remember reading that Kimora and Djimon had an African wedding ceremony in Africa (although I don’t know if it was confirmed). Maybe they aren’t legally husband and wife (in the States), but Seal is not “legally” Lenis father and no one has ever had a problem with a magazine saying that he was.

KayLee on

I love her. I think she is awesome!

urbanadventurertales on

She doesn’t seem “down-to-earth” persay, but I like the rules she has about TV in her home.
And baby Kenzo is absolutely delicious 🙂

crimpe on

I think this is a really bizarre photograph. Djimon looks dour, Aoki looks uncomfortable, and Kimora looks like she was wheeled in while nursing in a ball gown. And CJ, Seal is officially adopting Leni.

erin on

They make a handsome family! I love it!

pulane on

They r a gr8 family, most people keep their last names after divorces its no big deal. The fact that the kids dont watch much tv that’s great most parents dont do that no more instead they let the tv babysit the kids. Great parenting Kimora.

emily on

Rachel- Maybe she kept his last name because she wants to have the same last name as her children? My sister will also always keep her ex-husbands last name because she wants to have the same last name as her son. I think it’s a little deeper than “not liking” your ex-husband.

sat on

Interesting discussion on legal marriage v. commitment ceremony. It can be financially un-viable to legally marry in the U.S., and as we know not all adults have the legal right to marry. My opinion is that people still can and should represent a person as their spouse in public if that’s what they want to do. The details are private.

J on

Is it really necessary for all three kids to have ‘Lee’ as their middle name? My ex did that with the two sons he has with another ex (him and his ex both have the middle name ‘Lee’) and he wanted my son to have it too,but I said no. One child I can understand,but not all you kids need your name.

Didn’t Seal adopt Leni?

Simone on

Beautiful picture…but the puurple dress she wears doesnt look good at all….something red or white would have been nice to match the clothes of the others

Stephlon on

Isn’t “Lee” Kimora’s maiden name? It’s nice for children to have both mom and dad’s last name- especially when it’s as unassuming as ‘Lee’. Commitment ceremonies are usually not ‘legal’ on paper, but can be legally binding depending on where you live…and alimony often dries up if another mate is living with you- depending on your marital/separation agreement. What a lovely family!

CJ on

Crimpe, yes I know that he is adopting her. I was just making a point lol.

Allie-Rose on

I like that her children don’t have TVs or computers in their rooms and don’t watch much TV. I think it creates a different dynamic within the family that can only be beneficial for children.

Congratulations on the wedding too.
I’m not American but I don’t see any reason why this marriage wouldn’t be legal in the US if the proper paperwork is done. Vegas weddings aren’t legal anywhere else outside the US unless you do the proper paperwork with your embassy.

As for Kimora using her ex-husband’s last name, there can be many and various reasons such as Russell allowed her and/or she’s professionally known as Ms/Mrs Simmons and it could be confusing for business partners if she changed it.

L on

Such a beautiful family, I love it!!

Devon on

They are a beautiful family. I think it’s nice that the 3 kids share the same middle name. It creates a sense of unity (not that they wouldn’t already have it). I have the same initials as my cousin, who is also 2 days older than me, and I really liked it growing up. Didn’t like the fact that he was older by only 2 days(!!) but it was cool to share something with him.

Kimora seems like a wonderful mother and is teaching her children well. So many parents just plop their children in front of a television rather than read to them or interact with them. My children definitely will not be having computers or television in their room. There is no reason for it and a lot of the children’s programming on now is horrible. My husband and I already limit the amount of television we watch and I would do away with cable all together if it weren’t for my Canucks and Habs. I would love it if I could only subscribe to 4 channels: Sportsnet, TSN RDS and CBC!

Jessica on

I do agree that its a slap in the face for the new husband for a woman to keep her ex-husband’s name, but I guess that’s just me, I have more respect for my husband than that. Do “normal” families have giant nutcrackers and wear ballgowns for their christmas pics ;)? Im sure she’s probably a nice lady, but after seeing a few episodes of her show and reading these interviews, I think something about her just gives off this phoney vibe…

michelle on

I think the last name thing is tricky when you have children. My cousin is facing the same thing. She kept her ex’s last name forever because it had been her name for 15 years and her kids last name too. But now that she is married, she wants to take her new husband’s name. But her kids are still in school so…what to do…especially if she has children with husband 2? Her compromise, she hyphenated. Thankfully both names hyphenated well together…now instead of Melissa Jean, she is Melissa Jean-Ray.

Emma on

Her shiny purple dress and showing so much skin does not match the others in the photograph. And of course her kids do not watch TV—she has bought them dozens of lessons (ballet, piano, etc) or is jetting off with them somewhere with that $40,000 a month. Plus she doesn’t have to cook, clean, or anything that the average mom does–sorry, it just irks me that superstar moms get credit for things like no TV…as if 😉

Crystal on

EMMA-I totally agree! While I think its “great” that she likes to portray herself as susie homemaker I think she is far from it.
Im pretty sure they didnt decorate that house as a family lol.
She seems incredibly fake to me! JMO

CelebBabyLover on

Emma- How do you know she doesn’t have to cook clean or “anything that the average mom does”? Not all celebs have all the “bells and whistles” when it comes to hired help! And what’s wrong with the girls taking lessons? Lots of kids do!

Bela on

Emma, I totally agree with you! She is not a “normal” mom nor are her kids. Most kids don’t get to do all the things her girls do, because it costs alot of money. I also think it’s funny she does not let her kids watch tv, yet she has them on her show and she makes tons of money from it.

mrsh on

I like that she has rules for her children, even if they aren’t the same rules I have for my own. I think it’s great when a parent actually takes the time to enforce rules. Their lifestyle is very interesting. As others have said, of course the girls don’t watch TV, because their lives are full! They don’t need TV to keep them busy. Some of us aren’t so fortunate, and TV is the one special thing our children get. I really like that they give back to the community, and I like that they have traditions. I think it’s a fair assumption that she has help around the house, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. If I could afford to have someone cook and clean for me, I totally would. All in all, I think she seems like a decent person.


Cute but her dress should be red !

Nicola on

I think it’s a little hypocritical to criticize her ex for talking to the press in an interview.

Crystal on

Very true Nicola

anne on

A person doing realityshows is not private. Its funny how she thinks she is private.

CelebBabyLover on

anne- She might still be private. We don’t know how much of the “real” Kimora and family are shown on the reality show. Remember, “reality” shows are often anything but! 🙂

Danielle on

The picture is beautiful and so is her family. But it makes me laugh, everyone is wearing ‘traditional’ Christmas picture attire while she’s in a floor lenth gown..funny! But I love her and think she deserves to be happy.

Mommyof3 on

What a nice interview! Kimora seems so happy with her life and I think that is the main thing!! It’s just too bad that there are still the “Olde Fashioned” kind of people on this site that insist on marriage, the legal binding way! Honestly who cares if the 2 of them married legally or not? Is it you and your family? Does a peice of paper acutally mena that they WILL INDEFINETLY stay together for eternity? I highly doubt it! Incase you haven’t noticed there is still such a thing as DIVORCE and that usually means that there was a marriage involved.
Time to grow up and live your own life people, Kimora and Dijimon are happy as are their children. I think in the end that is the MAIN point!!

SweetDiva on

If 2 US citizens marry outside the US, unless they held the ceremony on US soil (ie an embassy or military base) they are not legally married in the US. I’m getting married in Mauritius next month so we’ll still have to have a legal ceremony in the US. Only necessary for changing my name on my documents (passport, driver’s license, social security). Since Kimora seems to be keeping the Simmons name, the ceremony in Benin is all she really needs. Otherwise you have to go through the formal name change process.

emily on

Yeah. They totally look like a “normal” family. All “normal” families dress like that. Do normal families inform their nannies that their kids can only watch 1 hour of tv a day? And yeah totally private. That’s why they have a reality show. Yeah they are sooo normal.

Halley on

I think its a great picture, but whats up with Kimora’s dress? Everyone else is basically matching and the color of her dress (as well as its being formal while everyone else is more dressed down) is just bizarre. It really clashes. You would think a fashionista like Kimora would know that. Gorgeous kids though.

CelebBabyLover on

emily- Kimora’s dress isn’t exactly that “normal” for this type of photoshoot maybe, but Aoki, Ming, Djimion and Kenzo are all dressed the way a lot of “normal” families dress for their Christmas card photo. 🙂

Dee on

Oh some of you people need to get over it already!!!!!!! Stop hating on the woman and what she does. Is anyone critisizing you all?


She is out there making a life for her family, yes she has a television show but the last time I checked there was not much ‘reality’ left in reality shows.

As far as we can see, her kids are well adjusted, intelligent kids who aren’t running around mouthing off and acting up.

What is “normal” for her may not be “normal” to you but who are you all to be so judgemental about the woman. You all dont even know her. Just because you naysayers sit behind a computer screen and see an imagine you feel that in order to make yourselves feel better you have to put someone you dont know down!!!

It’s Christmas, how about just leaving a nice comment and getting on your merry way. Better yet, skip the picture if you cant find anything nice at all to say!!!

I keep saying it, “if you live in glass houses, dont throw stones.”

Kimora’s family is beautiful, its a Family portrait and the last family portrait I did we were all dressed up in our Sunday best. Stop being grinches w/ the snotty comments already and learn to smile a lil even if you having a crappy day!!!

mermaids614 on

I like Kimora but I don’t see why some of you are praising her for not allowing tv but an hour a week. Madonna said the same thing about her then 2 children years ago. Again, these are children of millionaires. I know for a fact Aoki and Ming each take foreign language lessons, piano and dance in addition to private schooling. Then on top of that, they probably take horseback lessons, soccer and who knows what other classes. Add that to making appearances with mom. They have personal drivers to take them to all these activities as well. There really is no time for tv, video games or cell phones when you have the financial resources to have your children in round the clock activities 95 per cent of the time. The less money parents have, the less activities their child is likely to be involved in due to affordability, lack of transportation, etc.

Ndinelao on

Well, one need to give credit where it is due. Kimora is doing well with herself and the kids. The dress, some like it some not. That is not for us to judge as long as Kimora feel good. I am sure all of us get criticize sometimes re what we wearing. Who said that during Christmas you cannot wear purple?

In Africa where I am from, their marriage is legal. If they believe in their commitment as marriage, so be it. So many people live together even without commitment, it that legal. If we should follow the traditions whether it is western, european or african living together was a taboe. For Kimora to go to Benin and make that commitment, it is an honour to at least the African traditions. If it is not legal in the US, it is time they make it legal as so many people are living together with rights, calling each other partners, which is wrong.

TV time for kids, cellphones, that is a good decision. I noticed even the ones saying that they do not have money buy that for their kids including myself.,,,- very wrong. Thumbs up for Kimora whether we like it or not.

Ms. Forte on

I realize Kimora may not read this, but I applause her and her husband. These children are THEIR CHILDREN,and they are responsible for them, not the BUSY BODIES WHO NEED TO GET A LIFE!!

I will miss her show, I enjoyed her humor and just being real. I hope she continues with her charities and maybe later, think about a clothing line for the professional women and full-figure women who want to get out of the box.

God’s blessings and favors for your family.