Cover Bling Empire's Kelly Mi Li and Kane Lim. Images courtesy of B.L.I.N.G.; Kelly Mi Li

Get to know the OG cast members as they spill the tea behind the two-season reality show in a quick conversation

One of Netflix’s most talked-about shows to date, Bling Empire, tails the lives of affluent Asian personalities in Los Angeles and reveals their epic rivalries, over-the-top parties, and sky’s-the-limit shopping sprees. But more than showcasing a life of extravagance, the reality show is created with a deeper purpose in mind. OG cast members Kane Lim and Kelly Mi Li talk about it in a quick conversation with Tatler.

Read also: Meet the Cast of ‘Bling Empire’ Season 2

Tatler: What made you say yes to being a part of Bling Empire?

Kane Lim: Bling Empire has been in the works for five years already, and I have always been part of it even before Netflix took a chance [with] us. I am so grateful for that. It made me say yes because I think Asians are not represented enough in the US. You do not really see a lot of Asians on camera here. The cast was also special. Although we are not all friends, everyone brings a certain element to the show. 

Kelly Mi Li: I would say Kane and I are the OGs [cast] because when I went to Kane first with this idea of Bling Empire, there were only the two of us. Now, we were able to bring everybody else, obviously, a full army of people to make this show what it is today. We are grateful to Netflix and the partnership [because] we were able to reach a global audience. It is important to have more Asian representation in mass media, especially [since] this [show] is the first of its kind. I think we are breaking barriers and breaking stereotypes [by highlighting that] Asians are multi-dimensional.

Read also: ‘Bling Empire’: The Most Shocking (or Just Plain Weird) Moments on the Show


T: What preparations did you do for Season 2?

KML: I do not think there is much preparation [needed] because we are not a scripted show, so you really do not have to “study” in a sense.

KL: For me, it was more of a diet. Laughs. There is a lot of preparation for outfits, clearing your time and your headspace for shooting something like Bling Empire. It is very tiring. The audience does not realise that we shoot for three months for five hours of entertainment. There are a lot of emotional ties at work and time put into the show.

T: How is Season 1 different from Season 2?

KL: The main difference is that Season 2 was filmed during the pandemic. There is a lot of tension. There are a lot of emotional people. There are new people in the show, people that we might not get along with in real life. What I loved about Season 1 was there’s a lot of heart and compassion. Season 2 has a lot of drama. 

KML: Asian culture is so vast, and we only have five hours per season. In Season 1, we showed the [traditional] black pig stew [usually served] after you give birth. In Season 2, we keep expanding on other Asian cultures that weren’t shown [in Season 1]. So, there’s the feng shui that Kane had for his new apartment for Season 2. Hopefully, with future seasons – Netflix, please give us future seasons – we can keep expanding on that. It’s fun but also educational for the rest of the world as well.

Read also: This ‘Bling Empire’ Star Is Worth US$800 Million—Here’s How Much the Cast Members Are Worth

T: What were your most memorable moments when filming the second season?

KML: Being able to hang out with real friends like Kane. It’s fun because [in my head] “Yey, I will get to see Kane again and have some fun!”

KL: I’m close to Kim and Kelly off the show. We are good friends. So, for me to be able to shoot with them is so fun. With our friendship, we’re in the show to support each other. To see to others’ success. 

T: Who are your favourite cast members?

KL: Kelly and Kim.

KML: Oh, Kane is sitting right next to me now,
so... Laughs.

T: In real life, what is the craziest purchase that you’ve ever made? Did you regret it afterwards?

KL: A US$3000 shirt, and I regret it. That was when I was 18. I’m like looking back now, and I feel so crazy. Like why did I spend US$3000 on a shirt or even US$10,000 on a shoe? But nowadays, I buy stuff that has value and things that I really like.

KML: Kane just bought a new house in Malibu.

KL: That’s public too; that was beside Lady Gaga. That’s an investment because I do real estate as well.

T: What do you look for when you shop?

KL: It must be classic, must be something that would have value after a few years or even ten years. Like a Patek Philippe or a Rolex, things which, if something happens to me, then at least someone can sell it.

KML: Classic is the way to go. I think quality over branding.

T: What’s your take on plastic surgery?

KL: Plastic surgery is great, but I think it should be the last resort. Exercise all options [first]. Plastic surgery used to be called reconstructive surgery. For example, I was 100kg a few years ago, and when I lost weight, I had so much skin left, so I had surgery to remove the excess skin. You must love yourself first. Plastic surgery or any aesthetic treatments are just on top to enhance it. Obviously, our skin is all going to sag, right? Do some Botox? That’s fine. I think you should do it for yourself and not go to a doctor and say, “I want to look like this celebrity”, because then, for me, the intention [was] wrong to begin with.

KML: I think it’s a personal preference, and I think if it gives you self-confidence, then yes. It really needs to be thought out and researched. Don’t just go and get it.


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