It’s no secret Netflix’s new reality hit Bling Empire is filled with ultra-wealthy people whose lives of luxury don’t come off as very relatable to most viewers. Luckily, the show has an audience surrogate in Kevin Kreider, a Midwestern-raised, Korean American who’s frequently blown away by his Los Angeles friend group’s glamorous antics. But since the average California transplant doesn’t just happen to befriend a bunch of billionaires, many fans can’t help but wonder: How did Kevin become friends with his Bling Empire co-stars?
As it turns out, cast member Kelly Mi Li actually discovered Kevin through social media videos that he made back when he was living in Philadelphia.
"I [had] been doing videos about Asian masculinity and my life as a model, and Kelly actually discovered one of those videos," he explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "[She] DMed me and said, ‘Hey, look, if you’re ever in L.A., I’d love to meet up sometime.’ I was like, ‘I’m moving to L.A., actually, at the end of the month!’ Then, when I moved there, I met her right away."
Kelly then introduced Kevin to his future partner-in-crime, Kane Lim,. But, as Kevin told the publication, he didn’t initially think he and the super-rich friend group would hit it off.
"I looked at Kane’s shoes and was like, ‘I am not going to get along with this group,’" Kevin told EW. "They were these ruby red extravagant shoes. And I’m like, ‘Is this what I signed up for?’"
Luckily, Kevin said he and Kane "clicked immediately," and his new friends soon convinced him to star on Bling Empire with them. He was hesitant at first, since he didn’t come from the same privileged background as the rest of his co-stars, but Kevin became the voice for viewers as he navigated his friends’ exclusive world to the best of his ability.
"Kelly and Kane didn’t make me feel awkward about [not being as wealthy as them], but yet, I was just so blown away with everything that I just couldn’t hold it in," Kevin explained. "I just kept being shocked, appalled, amazed or whatever, and everything just kind of came out."
But even though the show often spotlights obscenely wealthy Asian Americans, the Bling Empire star insists there’s more to the reality show than meets the eye.
"There’s people with lots of money, but [the show is] really about me finding my own comfort with a new group of friends that I live in this world with now. Finding my place in L.A., and trying to find my place here with a new group of Asian friends that I’ve never met before," he said. "Discovering my identity as an Asian American, I think that was huge for me. So it’s really about identity and finding your place in the world. I think that’s very relatable, not just with Asians, but anybody."
Bling Empire Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
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