The Netflix show is full of reality TV tropes but its most moving plot line is Lee"s emotional tìm kiếm for her estranged father.

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Amid all the drama that unfolds in the reality show Bling Empire, one of the more light-hearted scenes has cast member Klặng Lee posing during a poolside photoshoot in a luxurious Hollywood trang chính, only lớn be upstaged by her fur coat-wearing mom, who shows her how khổng lồ “work it.”

“My mom was a natural in the show, she is such a character và she was just herself. She really is the one who normally takes pictures of me; she’s getting better at it,” Lee, 32, told in a video clip Gọi from Los Angeles. “I"m very proud of her because this was her first time being on camera lượt thích that. Many Asian parents are very private and she really did this just for me và to lớn tư vấn me.”


The Netflix hit is a lot like other reality shows. Think: Selling Sunset The Real Housewives franchise. It’s about the lives of socialites in LA, following them as they date, tiệc nhỏ, and fight with one another. But it differs in one major detail — its predominantly Asian cast. Described as the real-life Crazy Rich Asians, the show has since garnered both passionate fans and critics. It was an instant guilty pleasure since dropping in January, but many have also called it out for perpetuating Asian stereotypes in the United States — where the pandemic has led to dangerous anti-Asian bias — even if these cliches were about being “crazy rich.”

Lee admitted that she too had concerns before joining the cast.

“Going inkhổng lồ the show, my question to the producers was ‘Is this going khổng lồ be a Crazy Rich Asian’s adaptation where we"re just gonmãng cầu siêu thị all day?’, because that"s just not me,” she said.


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Kyên ổn Lee

Lee, who is of Vietnamese and French descent và grew up in Orange County, is an international DJ & host of Yo! MTV Raps on MTV Asia. A co-star called her “The Asian Calvin Harris,” but Lee is the first to admit that she’s not lượt thích the others on the show.

“I don"t fit into lớn this group, khổng lồ be honest with you. I"m self-made. And yes, I do lượt thích the lavish lifestyle. Honestly, who doesn"t? But I felt like that (just shopping all day for the show) would have been so boring,” she said.

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Photo: Courtesy of Kyên ổn Lee

Lee’s co-stars have sầu more affluent backgrounds. Apart from Model Kevin Kreider, who acts as the audience surrogate, most people on the show are heirs or owners of million-dollar (sometimes billion-dollar) companies. There’s Anna Sgiỏi, whose father founded a company that giao dịch with matters of national defense, & Jaime Xie, a fashion influencer from Northern California and daughter of cyber-security tech billionaire Ken Xie.


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As if an answer to her initial apprehensions about being boring, Lee figures in some pretty intense situations. In one scene, she throws out Shay’s hydro-powered penis pump off a window, damaging their friendship — exactly the kind of drama you would expect from a reality show. But she’s also at the center of one of the most personal và emotional storylines, where she goes on a quest lớn look for her biological father, whom she had lost liên hệ with at a young age.

“It was actually incredibly difficult lớn vì that on TV,” Lee said about sharing something so delicate with millions of people. “Originally, the producers sat me down và asked me about my relationship with my parents — my mom and stepfather. I explained to them that it is very special, but that I had no relationship at all with my birth father. And they ended up saying ‘How about we help you find him?’”

bling empire, dj, kim lee, reality show, tv, experience, asian american, netflix
Klặng Lee"s mom and stepfather. Photo: Courtesy of Kim Lee

While she was initially very skeptical, Lee ended up accepting the producers’ offer. “I was holding grudges against my father for not looking for me, khổng lồ be honest, and I needed some sort of closure.” In her search, Lee found out that her father had actually died of a heart attack two years earlier.

“I did not expect khổng lồ find out that he had passed away. It was very tough because, at that time, I felt like I didn’t have time lớn heal và grieve. It was a lot khổng lồ just continue filming,” she said.


She now thinks that there was value in sharing her story — that of searching for family and of loss — but admits that this realization must sound unbelievable for most. After all, she was talking about a reality show.

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“This is gonna sound weird, I know, but I almost feel it was meant khổng lồ be, that I was supposed to lớn be on the show lớn find my father,” she said. “My Instagram is full of messages — actually, paragraphs — of people thanking me for being vulnerable và sharing my story, and telling me that they reached out lớn estranged family members after watching the show.”

She’s not blind lớn the fact that people watch shows like Bling Empire for the larger-than-life scenes and low-stakes conflicts, và admits that it can get very overwhelming, very fast. She’s been criticized for her spat with Sxuất xắc.

“The penis pump episode, for example, was immature of me & Guy Tang, but I did apologize in the kết thúc, và it’s impossible khổng lồ see the whole story, which went a little differently, on TV.”