The show’s co-executive producer and castmate offers a glimpse into the new season from both sides of the camera
Words by DAVID NASH
Photography by DINA DOUGLASS
Leading up to last year’s debut of Netflix’s hit series Bling Empire, its breakout star Christine Chiu spent most days at her husband’s side running the family business. Well, sort of.
Along with her husband, Dr. Gabriel Chiu, Christine has been responsible for the development and growth of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery — one of L.A.’s most prestigious plastic and reconstructive surgery practices for over 15 years. They’re also incredibly philanthropic and involved with organizations providing health and educational services to underprivileged communities around the world, including The Prince’s Foundation Chiu Integrated Health Programme at Dumfries House in Scotland — an endeavor fully underwritten by the couple.
But during the pandemic, the busy couture-clad new mom — and first-generation Asian American — found life in the spotlight as one of reality TV’s most dazzling new characters. Between Bling and her appearance on the 30th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, Chiu quickly became a fan favorite and an emissary of westernized Asian culture.
With Bling’s second season dropping this month, we thought it was a good time to catch up with my glamorous toe-tapping friend and get the scoop on everything from her behind-the-scenes role on the series and new cast members to the drama ahead and finding her happy place.
Some people might be surprised to learn that you’re a co-executive producer on Bling Empire (along with castmate Kelly Mi Li). What’s it like living a double life?
Christine Chiu: Truthfully speaking, it works against me. I think there are a lot of preconceived notions [about my role as a producer]. Oftentimes I get caught between the cast and production — whether that’s behind-the-scenes drama or on-camera drama. It’s really a fine line and a delicate balance [deciding] how to push [storylines] forward and what to hold back. In retrospect, I probably should have stuck to one or the other, but not both.
Identity crisis aside, what do you hope to achieve with season two?
CC: To provide the most entertaining hook, but also to introduce viewers to more unique journeys of my Asian American cast members. Ultimately, I want [to produce] a great show. Not one that’s mindless, but one with heart and that can be a game-changer in our culture. I love the art of storytelling — whether on TV, in film or through fashion. I like diving into the past to figure out who we are and where we come from, then take it into the future [and] use what we’ve learned to grow and to change our communities in a positive way.
Tell us about a couple of the gorgeous new faces we’ll see this season.
CC: Viewers will be very familiar with Dorothy Wang — I believe she’s very beloved from [the E! reality series] Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. She’s the same sassy, in-charge, tell-it-as-it-is, funny gal, but all grown up with even better clothes! She adds such a sharp, entertaining dynamic to the group and we’re so lucky to have her. Then there’s Mimi [Morris] who is definitely full of Bling! Like, her whole house is bedazzled. But I think we went easy on her this season.
Mimi might get off easy, but what about you? What’s in store for Christine?
CC: We never go easy on Christine! I have some challenges this season including having to relive the death of my mother and how I handled the aftermath. On top of that, I learn that gossip is a very dangerous game, and unfortunately, I realize that you can’t let your guard down — even with people you thought you trusted. But this season you’ll see that I do stand up and speak up when I’m pushed a little too far. In the Asian culture it’s very common to [be told to] keep your head down, don’t make a big deal if you’re harassed, and just work harder. It’s a more Western ideology to speak up, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. It’s something I would teach [my son] Baby G — I’d never want him to cower if he was being mistreated.
Baby G’s grown so much; I love when he pops up on your social media looking so adorably dapper. What’s his personality like?
CC: He’s three-and-a-half-years-old now and just when you think you’ve mastered handling a baby, being the mother of a toddler is a whole other ballgame. He’s a very sweet and gentle soul, but also extremely smart — I’ll give his dad credit for that. And according to the parents of his classmates, he’s the class clown [and] loves to make people laugh. He picks up on everything very quickly and connects dots that would take me forever to connect. He can explain everything to you all the time, over and over again.
Why don’t you explain something and share what’s going on between you and Anna [Shay] this season?
CC: I have to say I’m a little disappointed in our relationship. The silly rivalry we had in season one, I thought it was just for fun and not a huge deal. There are much bigger issues in life than sparing over necklaces. I was hopeful we could move past it and go down a more positive route, but ultimately it doesn’t happen. She’s held some grudges a little too long, and you’ll see some of that unfold this season. Unfortunately, a lot of drama and problems arise from insecurity, and you’ll see throughout this season that, a lot of times, those who instigate drama usually have something happening in their [personal] lives and they’re trying to deflect. I love being around confident, happy people.
Okay, if you could recruit your dream castmate for Bling Empire season three, who would it be?
CC: Awkwafina! She’s so funny. Or Ali Wong. Actually, I love Ashley Park — we’re good friends in real life and she’s such a cool chick. I’d love some total comedians on the show.
Looking back on the last couple of years of being in the reality spotlight, which would you say was more challenging — the physical exertion of DWTS or the emotional investment shooting two seasons of Bling?
CC: Definitely I’d say Bling is much more demanding. The mind games of being on any reality project is much more petrifying. I’ve always loved dance and Dancing With the Stars really reignited [my passion]. Growing up I took dance — tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, modern, hip-hop — and I was also a cheerleader. In fact, I was the captain of the dance team in college, but I stopped as an adult for almost 20 years before the show. Once I got my body moving and the adrenaline going, it just brought me back to a really happy place.
Something I’m super happy about is that the new season of Bling debuts on Friday the 13th, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
CC: Well, I was born on a Friday the 13th, so it’s like what else could possibly happen, right?!
May 12, 2022
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