14 March 2009

Devon Aoki, b 1982, America

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  1. Aoki was born in New York City, and grew up in California and London, attending high school at The American School in London. Her Japanese American father, Rocky Aoki, a former Olympic wrestler, was the founder and owner of the Benihana restaurant chain until his death on July 10, 2008. Her mother, Pamela Hilburger, is a jewelry designer of German and English heritage.

    Aoki was discovered in New York at a Rancid concert she had gatecrashed. She started modeling when she was 13, the same year Aoki was introduced by her godmother to Kate Moss, who would later take the young Devon under her wing. Moss pushed for Aoki to be signed, and she was signed onto Storm Model Management at age 14.

    “ And then I guess from being in New York, I did this photograph for Interview Magazine called "Lovely Rita." My agency says that Kate Moss brought the picture in and told them that they should, you know, sign me. And then it happened, and then in my early career we did a lot of jobs together. She was a big help to me when I first started. ”

    In 1998, at the age of 16, Devon replaced Naomi Campbell as the face of Versace. An A-grade student at school, Devon chose not to go on to college, believing that working and traveling offered her a "broader and deeper education" than a degree.

    Aoki is 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) — an almost unheard of height for runway models, who are usually at least 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) height.

    Early on in her career Aoki made cameo appearances in several music videos, including Duran Duran's "Electric Barbarella", Primal Scream's "Kowalski" (with Kate Moss), Elton John's "Something About the Way You Look Tonight", Ginuwine's "In Those Jeans" video and, later, in Ludacris' "Act a Fool". Music from this video was featured in the soundtrack of 2 Fast 2 Furious, which Ludacris and Aoki both appeared in. In 2006, she made an appearance in The Killers' video "Bones". Aoki has also made a cameo appearance in the short films accompanying the new Sean Lennon album, Friendly Fire.

    Her acting career includes films like 2 Fast 2 Furious, D.E.B.S., Sin City, Dead or Alive and War. She did not have her driver's license prior to filming 2 Fast 2 Furious and had to learn to drive during filming.

    Aoki has a role in the 2008 film Mutant Chronicles.

    Aoki has joined L.A.'s International Creative Management for representation and The Firm for management.

    Aoki has been on the cover of I-D magazine three times. She was also the face of Lancome cosmetics for four years. Aoki posed for renowned Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee for Kee's 2006 charity photo-book "Super Stars", dedicated to the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster, which consists of photographs of 300 Asian celebrities by Kee. The same year, Aoki posed for photographer Marc Baptiste’s book Nudes wearing a dress:

    “ It's funny. People have been saying that, and I saw the book. I'm the only person in the book who is wearing clothes. I'm wearing a dress. I'm like 'why am I in this book?' because it's nudes and I'm not nude at all. ”

    In September 2007, it was announced she was designing jeans line for Levi's, although the line was only available in Asia.

    Aoki recently made a return to the runway, walking for the Chanel Pre-Fall 2008 show in London. She is signed to 1/One Management New York (owned by her mother), d-Management Milan, and City Paris.

    Aoki lives on her own in Los Angeles, and keeps her personal life private. She has dated Lenny Kravitz.

    She is interested in writing poetry, playing the drums and hanging out with her two pet snakes.

    In 2006, Aoki's father, Hiroaki Aoki, sued four of his seven children for attempting to take control of the companies he founded. Devon, uninvolved in the family business, was not one of the four.

    Her half-brother, Steve Aoki, is a Los Angeles DJ and the founder of Dim Mak Records. Aoki also has three sisters—Ellie, Grace, and Echo—and three other brothers—Kyle, Kevin, and Cole Price.