The Netflix reality star and DJ talks about the show’s implications for industry diversity: “In the mainstream we haven’t seen so many Asians”
“Bling Empire” and the Asian revolution in Hollywood … Kim Lee was still immersed in her world tours as a DJ when the director of “Crazy, Rich Asians” Jon M. Chu sought her out to participate in the film that made history by being the Hollywood’s first with a completely Asian cast . Along the way he crossed “Bling Empire”, a Netflix reality show that premiered in mid-January and which also became the first to star people of Asian descent. Barely a couple of months have passed and Lee confirms the second season.
“It’s official, season two will take place,” Lee exclusively reveals to GQ. “I feel excited to share the next chapter of my life,” previews the second instalment of the broadcast produced by Jeff Jenkins, the creator of the show that catapulted the Kardashians.
Netflix’s “Bling Empire” follows the lives of a series of wealthy and rising Asian-born characters (some more eccentric than others) who live in Los Angeles. Models and DJs like Kim Lee mingle with descendants of China’s millennial dynasties and members of families whose fortunes come from oil, real estate developments, technology and whose bank accounts are measured in the billions. A camera follows them at every step and enters luxurious lives where transatlantic trips are as routine as weekend getaways and in which the most exclusive jewellers close their doors to serve those customers who hardly question price. Dramas, fights and romantic relationships typical of the genre are also there.
But for Kim Lee, with a Vietnamese pedigree and well-known on East Asian turntables, the show marks the rise of Asians in the industry as well as the collapse of some of the clichés that surround them. “People think that Asians are reserved, shy and with this program we have broken those barriers. What is so special about ‘ Bling Empire’ is that we have different backgrounds, ”he refers to the participants’ Taiwanese, Chinese and Korean origins.
He even points out that the program breaks down some cultural issues in some of those countries. For example, one episode deals with the battle of a woman of Chinese origin who contemplates surrogacy, an alternative that, according to the show, would hardly be accepted by Chinese society. “Open up about our families and some issues is not common in Asian families, many of us are educated not to talk and keep many things in privacy,” explains Lee, who in the program looks for his biological father
The announcement of the second season of “Bling Empire” also coincides with a wave in which more Asian representation seems to be making its way into Hollywood. The sequel to Crazy, Rich Asians enlists and Chloé Zhao, the Chinese-born director who has captivated, will become the first woman to direct a Marvel film. “In the mainstream we had not seen so many Asians, especially an entire cast, especially in a reality show, ” says the MTV Asia presenter.
Kim Lee also confesses that despite the success she and her co-stars had doubts about the arrival of reality in January, at the height of the pandemic. “It’s a good moment? For a show like this, ”they wondered. “I was worried about people who are losing jobs, the situation of the pandemic, I thought it would not be something that people would see, but it goes beyond that, it is deeper and has substance. We did not have as many detractors as we thought and it was the perfect escape and it ended up being a perfect moment, “he recalled of the premiere that even jon M. Chi himself tweeted.
For her it has also been, because without giving details she anticipates that she has taken advantage of the brake in her DJ facet to develop projects as a producer. And although he points out that the reality show does not have a script, his imagination has already started, he pointed out that although they do not have a release date for the second season of “Bling Empire”, he already anticipates what we could see. “Expect a lot of dark secrets, a lot from me. I guess they’ll see what happens between me and Kevin. “