Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider Says The Show’s Success Has Taken A Toll On His Friendship With Kane Lim: “I Miss That Light, Fun Side We Used To Have That’s Really Innocent” - 8 Days Skip to main content

Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider Says The Show’s Success Has Taken A Toll On His Friendship With Kane Lim: “I Miss That Light, Fun Side We Used To Have That’s Really Innocent”

The Bling Empire star says his friendship with Singaporean entrepreneur Kane Lim has changed a lot since filming of Season 2 wrapped. Warning: This story contains spoilers — approach with caution. 


Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider Says The Show’s Success Has Taken A Toll On His Friendship With Kane Lim: “I Miss That Light, Fun Side We Used To Have That’s Really Innocent”

Money changes everything, they say.

Tell that to Kevin Kreider. One day he was a bodybuilder and personal college, the next a jobbing model and actor, and now a star on Netflix’s Bling Empire, the reality soap opera about a clique of LA’s filthy rich Asian-Americans.

When the show debuted in January last year, it couldn’t escape being compared to the 2018 rom-com Crazy Rich Asians. And now with Season 2, which dropped on May 13, the antics — the drama, glitz and mind-blowing opulence — depicted make everything in Jon M Chu’s movie a tad tame.

In fact, Krieder, a Korean-American adoptee, has a few words for the producers currently developing the Crazy Rich Asians sequel, if they want to step out of Bling Empire’s shadow. “I would say they better up their budget from $20 million to at least double of that,” the 38-year-old bachelor wisecracks.

In Year One, Kreider was portrayed as the neutral observer — you know, the poor dude — trying to navigate the excesses and idiosyncrasies of the ultra-wealthy. Going into Season 2, Kreider admits he isn’t the same person he was a year ago. “How can you not be different?” he tells on Zoom from his US$3,500 (S$4,900)-a-month Hollywood apartment.

Has he been, ahem, corrupted by his affluent pals? 

“I don’t know about being corrupted but I have seen the corruption,” he says. “I try to keep my North Pole. I came here for a reason — to blow the doors open for Asian guys in America and [improve their representation in media].

“I think I am accomplishing that in my own way — in reality TV. I hope the change is for the good. I came in here with good intentions and getting rich famous and rich wasn’t one of them in the beginning. Now, it’s great to be rich. I get to see how the crazy rich spend their money. I’m like, I can do this better.”

Sadly, Bling Empire’s success has also taken a toll on his friendship with co-star Kane Lim. In Season 2, the Singaporean entrepreneur, 32, is in the centre of a few conflicts (of his own doing, we might add), including one heated altercation where Lim meddles in the budding (troubled?) romance between Kreider and DJ and fellow cast member Kim Lee.  

Kreider says their dynamic has changed since filming wrapped. “We used to practice Buddhism together a lot but that’s changed because [of what he did on the show],” he says, with a tinge of sadness. “He isn’t exactly practicing what he preaches. He expects everyone to be perfect to him and when it’s not, you see the other side [of him]. I think it’s really easy to be a Buddhist when things are going your way but when it’s not, that’s when it’s really time to practice it.

“We both had a lot of learning to do when it comes to that. We’ve distanced, for sure. We still do work together outside the show but I do feel that I miss that light, fun side we used to have that’s really innocent. We were just having fun [then]; we had no expectations from each other. After Season 1 aired, we had a lot of expectations of each other and that kind of damaged the relationship a lot.”

He adds, “I find that a lot of friends in reality shows go in as pure and wanted the best for each other, but when things get heated, ego, pride, and jealousy get in the way of friendships.”

Explosive: Kevin Kreider in an intense showdown with Kelly Mi Li and Kane Lim in Episode 5 of Bling Empire Season 2.

And how are things with Lee?

“This is what happens when you try to date friends,” Kreider sighs. On the show, their courtship reaches a low point when she puts him through a lie detector test to prove his love for her. “I don’t know how [the test] made me feel about my self-esteem, but it’s definitely a highlight,” he says.

“Me and Kim have a better relationship [than I have with Kane],” he continues. “We are good. Obviously, I don’t think we’ll have the same friendship. When we see each other, it’s not awkward — we’ve moved on, we are grown-ups. We’ve been through this stuff before. Things happened. People pissed each other off. We do our best not to hold grudges.”

Looking back, Kreider feels that he should’ve listened to sagely socialite Anna Shay: don’t date Kim! “In hindsight, she was right and maybe I was wrong.”

Speaking of Shay, Kreider wishes he’d seen her more often this year. “She’s been nothing but kind and gentle to me — I don’t ever feel uncomfortable around here. I have never asked her for anything except for advice and friendship. [I think] she appreciates that.”

Up next for Kreider is Asian Persuasion, a New York-set rom-com from Tony-Award and Grammy-winning Filipino producer-turned-feature director Jhett Tolentino. Kreider says he’s proud to be part of the primarily Asian cast that includes Dante Basco, Paolo Montalban, Scarlett Sher, and Celia Au.

“I studied acting 10 years ago and to finally be able to do it is kind of cool,” he says. “I thought I was done with acting about four years ago, then the opportunity fell on my lap and, you know what, when I am doing it, I’m happy. Maybe this is the route to go.”

Has Krieder considered adopting an Asian moniker? “My middle name is Taejin. I actually tried to change my name to Taejin, at least as a public persona. But Kevin Kreider sounds more like a Hollywood name. It just flows off the tongue. Maybe I’ll just stick with that.”

Meanwhile, he hopes to land more gigs so that he can afford the apartment’s “outrageous” rent. “It’s been a really dry first five months this year, let me tell you that much,” he says. “If not, I probably had to move and downgrade. Let’s see if I can stay here for another year.”

Krieder searching for a new pad? That sounds like a potential storyline for another season of Bling Empire. Watch this space.

Bling Empire is now streaming on Netflix.

Photos: Netflix

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