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‘Bling Empire’ star Kelly Mi Li talks break-up from Andrew Gray


“I hope you don’t mind seeing my mess!” Kelly Mi Li fretted.

The producer, investor and newly minted actuality star was hiding within the bare-bones visitor room of her new dwelling in Los Angeles. She wore a plain white sweater — no make-up, no jewels. “I needed some quiet,” she defined.

Huddled in that spare bed room, Mi Li did appear distant from the high-octane drama and chaotic opulence of “Bling Empire,” the Netflix collection that, after its debut in January 2021, made her well-known.

The first episode confirmed the now-36-year-old celebrating her birthday aboard a buddy’s non-public jet, then spending the day in Paris buying at Boucheron for jewels, and getting right into a tiff with boyfriend “Power Rangers” actor Andrew Gray.

“We haven’t really spoken for almost a year,” Mi Li mentioned of her now-ex. In reality, so much has occurred since 2019, when “Bling Empire” completed filming its first season, that includes a gaggle of real-life Crazy Rich Asians jet-setting, partying, feuding and spending extravagant quantities of cash.

Yellow dress Amna Al Salem, jewelry Talita London $410, shoes by Anabelle $1,280
Dress, worth on request at Instagram.com/amnaalsalem. Earrings, $410 at TalitaLondon.com, Shoes, $1,280 at ByAnnabelle.com.
John Chapple/www.JohnChapple.com

For one factor, a world pandemic delayed the present’s premiere and put a damper on the solid members’ globe-trotting life. But additionally, for Mi Li, there was a tough breakup, a transfer, remedy and plenty of therapeutic. 

That first season, “I was in a darker place,” mentioned Mi Li, who’s an govt producer on the collection. “I didn’t feel free to be myself because I was walking on eggshells, because I didn’t want to upset [Gray],” who confirmed a fiery mood on the present.

Now, she’s able to reveal a brand new Kelly in Season Two, which drops May 13.

“The audience will be able to see the funner and lighter side of me,” she promised. “And they will see me finding my voice and my own power.”

(On April 28, Mi Li filed a grievance in opposition to “Bling Empire” producer Jeff Jenkins, claiming that he took and “exploited” her idea for the fact collection with out correctly compensating her. Mi Li was not in a position to touch upon the lawsuit to The Post. Jenkins’ rep didn’t reply to a request for remark.)

Mi Li admits it wasn’t easy finding people for the show (above) because “within Asian culture, especially if they from from family money, a lot of them don’t want to be that public.”
Mi Li admits it wasn’t straightforward discovering folks for the present (above) as a result of “within Asian culture, especially if they from from family money, a lot of them don’t want to be that public.”
Netflix

Mi Li has a lavish life, however in contrast to her “Bling” co-stars she didn’t come from cash. ‘

Born in Kunming, China, she and her household immigrated to the US when she was 10, after her mom bought a most cancers analysis job on the University of Illinois in Chicago. Life in America was an adjustment for the whole household: Mi Li barely spoke English, and her father — a health care provider in China — needed to work as a carpet cleaner. He went again to their homeland a 12 months later, and Mi Li’s mom needed to choose up odd jobs at evening to boost the younger lady on her personal.  

“My mom sacrificed so much,” Mi Li mentioned, including that she felt responsible even asking her mom for a sweet bar on the low cost grocery store the place they shopped in Chicago. “I learned the value of a dollar at a really young age.”

Fuchsia Satin Blazer Pearl and Rubies $350, Fuchsia Bralette Pearl and Rubies $100, Pink Plated Trousers Selezza $200, Gold earrings Nino Sepo
Blazer, $350; and bralette, $100 at PearlAndRubies.com. Pleated trousers, $200 at Selezza.Co.UK. Earrings, worth on request at Instagram.com/NinoSepo.
John Chapple/www.JohnChapple.com

Mi Li started babysitting at 12, and later labored at a restaurant, in addition to Victoria’s Secret and Pottery Barn. When she turned 18, she bought her life-and-health insurance coverage license and began working for New York Life. Her mom anticipated her to be a health care provider, however at 21, Mi Li dropped out of faculty and moved to Los Angeles. While working within the restaurant business there, she met her first husband, Lin Miao, founding father of a texting firm who launched Mi Li to a world of unfathomable luxurious. 

The couple would often rack up $400,000 on their Black AmEx card, flying non-public to Tokyo and shopping for up Birkins and Tiffany jewellery. They had seven automobiles and 4 houses. And then, someday in 2015, the federal government confirmed up and arrested him. Miao was working “one of the largest cyber scams in American history.”

“It was very shocking for me,” Mi Li instructed The Post, who added that she and her husband have been within the technique of divorcing when she came upon — there have been “other issues” with the wedding, she mentioned. 

Mi Li Akira dress
Akira costume, $199 at GuiltyOfGlam.com, Christian Siriano earrings, $85 at Macys.com, Chrisian Louboutin heels, $1,275 at NeimanMarcus.com.
Photo Copyright John Chapple / w

“The good part was that it didn’t happen when we were still together. But it was hard, because I didn’t really know what was going on, and my mom and I were lending him our personal money to help with his legal fees.” Eventually, all her cash was gone as nicely.

Mi Li reduce on her bills and offered fairly a couple of of the Birkins. But she finally landed again on her toes — even when married she by no means stopped working; it wasn’t in her nature to surrender.

“For me, being an entrepreneur, there are always ups and downs,” she mentioned. “Money comes and goes. I am always going to be able to make money, it’s just sometimes there’s an adjustment period.”

Yellow dress Amna Al Salem, jewelry Talita London $410, shoes by Anabelle $1,280
Dress, worth on request at Instagram.com/amnaalsalem. Earrings, $410 at TalitaLondon.com, Shoes, $1,280 at ByAnnabelle.com.
John Chapple/www.JohnChapple.com

Through dwelling in Los Angeles, Mi Li discovered her manner into the leisure business, and was working in manufacturing when a couple of years in the past she learn “Crazy Rich Asians,” the smash 2013 bestseller by Kevin Kwan, a couple of household of fabulously rich Singaporeans. 

“I was like these [people] are real,” she mentioned. “They’re fictional characters, but they’re my friends pretty much. So I started putting a show together.” 

Originally, Mi Li was solely alleged to be an govt producer on “Bling Empire,” working behind the digicam. But it felt just a little odd to be within the background of a present starring all her associates — who she met largely via touring and hanging out at unique lodges and nightclubs. Plus, it was onerous to seek out folks from “that crazy rich world” prepared to reveal their lives.

Fuchsia Satin Blazer Pearl and Rubies $350, Fuchsia Bralette Pearl and Rubies $100, Pink Plated Trousers Selezza $200, Gold earrings Nino Sepo
Blazer, $350; and bralette, $100 at PearlAndRubies.com. Pleated trousers, $200 at Selezza.Co.UK. Earrings, worth on request at Instagram.com/NinoSepo.
John Chapple/www.JohnChapple.com

“With Asian culture, especially if they come from family money, a lot of them don’t want to be that public,” Mi Li defined. So she stepped out of her consolation zone and bought in entrance of the digicam.

“It would be a lie if I told you it was easy,” Mi Li mentioned. “I’ve spent my whole career building myself to be a respected producer and businesswoman, so it was hard being so vulnerable in front of the camera and letting people know my secrets.”

Those secrets and techniques concerned her divorce, going to {couples} remedy with Gray, breaking apart and getting again along with Gray, flirting with one in all her different co-stars and extra. Yet the messy complexities of her life have helped make the present greater than only a fizzy confection. “Bling” offers with poisonous relationships, infertility points, adoption, household dysfunction and different “meatier” subjects that make its jaw-droppingly privileged solid members empathetic and relatable.

“The amount of women who have reached out to me [after seeing the show] was overwhelming,” Mi Li mentioned. “I didn’t realize my story related to so many of them.” 

Mi Li Akira dress
Akira costume, $199 at GuiltyOfGlam.com, Christian Siriano earrings, $85 at Macys.com, Chrisian Louboutin heels, $1,275 at NeimanMarcus.com.
Photo Copyright John Chapple / w

After filming the primary season, she began doing particular person remedy, left the smooth modernist West Hollywood dwelling she shared with Gray for 5 years, and acquired a cozier 2,000 sq. foot home that she’s at present renovating. The pandemic curtailed her worldwide journey, but it surely has allowed her to find her state of California.

“I’m exploring nature, which I’ve never done before,” she added with fun. And she’s permitting herself to loosen up. 

The present “really kickstarted my self-discovery journey, and it was a really big shift for me,” she mentioned. “It was, at times, a little embarrassing, but it was really rewarding at the end. When I think of how many people I’ve connected to and what it did for Asian representation in the mass media — it’s bigger than myself.”

Photos: John Chapple; Stylist: Horacio Aguilar/Celestine Agency; Hair/Makeup: Cat Sherwin




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