Reality star Dorothy Wang says Bling Empire: New York holds a mirror up to her behaviour

Dorothy Wang in Netflix's Bling Empire: New York. PHOTO: NETFLIX

LOS ANGELES – Inviting cameras into your life and having intimate moments broadcast for television is many people’s idea of hell.

But Dorothy Wang, who starred in the reality shows Rich Kids Of Beverly Hills (2014 to 2016), Famously Single (2016 to 2017) and Bling Empire (2021 to 2022), feels the experience is like having “a mirror held up to you” and has made her more self-aware.

The 35-year-old is now starring in her fourth reality series, the spin-off Bling Empire: New York, which ranked in Netflix’s top five most-watched titles in the United States when it premiered on Jan 20.

The first Bling Empire followed wealthy socialites living it up in Los Angeles, from the most lavish parties to the pettiest squabbles.

But this was the first such US show to feature a mostly Asian cast, and dubbed the “real-life Crazy Rich Asians” after the high society-set 2018 film of the same name.

Bling Empire: New York replicates that formula, this time following Wang’s move from Los Angeles to New York.

There, her well-heeled circle includes fashion influencer Tina Leung, millionaire businessman Stephen Hung and his wife Deborah Valdez, and jewellery designer to the stars Lynn Ban.

The series is “not my first rodeo”, notes Wang, the Beverly Hills-born daughter of Taiwanese-American billionaire businessman Roger Wang.

“But this show means more to me than some of the other Blings I was on, because I was kind of passing through those and not super invested like I am here,” she says in a telephone interview.

As for what draws people to the show, she thinks it is authenticity, rather than just voyeurism or a desire to live vicariously.

“For this show, I’m getting the feedback that everyone feels very authentic and natural, and that you can tell we are more of a cohesive unit.

“Everyone has an opinion, things to say and things going on. And people are drawn to authentic people and relationships and stories,” she explains.

“I’ve been hearing also that this one has a little bit more heart – it is not so much about all these big feuds, and there’s more to it than just wearing cool outfits.”

Despite the fact that many of the cast members are multi-millionaires – Wang’s net worth is estimated at US$11 million (S$14.5 million) and Hung’s, US$400 million – she thinks “all the issues that we have are pretty relatable”.

But it would not be a reality show without at least one juicy rivalry, and the first episode sees Wang get off on the wrong foot with Valdez and Hung when she shows up late to the couple’s anniversary bash.

Yet Wang points out that the way such shows are edited may not give the whole picture.

“Even though there are arguments and we don’t see eye to eye all the time, and we’re still getting to know one another, there is a mutual respect and genuine connection,” she says, adding that Leung is her closest Bling Empire: New York castmate.

And one does not have to be a millionaire to relate to Wang’s reason for moving to New York a year ago.

“I was ready for a life change. I was born and raised in Beverly Hills and that’s the only place I’d ever lived.

“I used to travel a lot, but during the pandemic, I had time to reflect on my life and wished I had been more adventurous. And I was upset at myself for not living elsewhere and having all these life experiences,” she explains.

(From left) Tina Leung, Richard Chang, Vika Abbyaeva, Blake Abbie, Dorothy Wang and Lynn Ban in Bling Empire: New York. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Being on shows such as this has also taught her a lot about herself. “You get to watch yourself and it’s like a mirror – of your behaviour and how people react to you.”

And that, Wang says, can be eye-opening. “You can think you’re saying something one way – playfully, for instance. But when you watch it, you’re like, ‘Oh, maybe people don’t see it that way.’

“So, I think it is always a good learning experience. I’m always trying to improve and it has been very helpful for me in that way.”

Bling Empire: New York is streaming on Netflix.

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