Beverly Hills, Who? Dorothy Wang is a New York City Girl
New York City has been the site of more than one soul-seeking reinvention. But what does starting anew look like when the world already knows who you are? Well, you sign a deal with Netflix and film your transition from Los Angeles princess to the Big Apple. At least that’s how Dorothy Wang, from #RichKidsOfBeverlyHills fame, did it. Though she was first tapped to join Bling Empire, the show trailing the life of a very wealthy group of Asian friends in L.A., the vibes were not it. “It felt redundant to me,” she says. “I kept politely declining.” But, when the opportunity to document her move to NYC presented itself, the 33-year-old reality star and heiress couldn’t resist. Nearly a decade after the premiere of #RichKids on E!, Bling Empire: NYC follows Wang and her friends—fashion girl Tina Leung, downtown fixture Blake Abbie, and jewelry designer Lynn Ban, among others—as she settles into her new life as a city girl. Wang has grown a lot since her first reality rodeo, but don’t be fooled; she remains as candid and brutally honest as ever. To no one’s surprise, she ruffles some very expensive feathers from the jump. “It’s too contrived,” she says of most reality television, over french fries and martinis at Pastis, the Meatpacking District staple that’s served as a haven for many an it-girl. “I just want to be myself and have fun.” During lunch, Wang covered a lot of ground, from her admiration for—and budding friendship with—Kimora Lee Simmons to her thoughts on L.A. vs New York: where’s it better to shop and party, and which city’s men suck less?
DOROTHY WANG: I’ve been trying to TikTok more.
MACIAS: How’s that going?
WANG: You know what? I like not being a professional TikToker. I’m just a girl, trying to TikTok.
MACIAS: Having fun with it.
WANG: I’m still just a TV girl. I don’t think it’s authentic for me to be planning all these skits and dances and stuff. So, literally, my TikTok is outfits and food.
MACIAS: I mean, that’s all I use TikTok for.
WANG: I’ll do it, but my friends aren’t big on social media so they’re not doing it. I have one friend, Tina [Leung], who’s on the show too. When we’re together we’ll do little skits.
MACIAS: Tell me what you’re wearing today.
WANG: My tank, obviously, Loewe. This little leather blazer is Stand Studio. I’m wearing a Staud mini skirt and Versace platform boots. And my favorite Bottega [Veneta] earrings.
MACIAS: They look amazing.
WANG: I can’t stop wearing them.
MACIAS: How is shopping in Beverly Hills different than in New York?
WANG: It’s different. I don’t shop in person here as much, at all. I shop when I go to L.A. I’ll shop in Miami. I’ll shop in Paris. New York, I think it’s too hectic for me. I’m not shopping around so much as I used to. It’s just a different vibe. I need a calm experience when I shop.
MACIAS: There are always hoards of people everywhere.
WANG: Eventually I’ll have to get better. I will go to Bergdorf’s. I do a lot of same-day delivery, like Net-A-Porter Premier. Whoever can deliver.
WANG: In L.A. you get in your car and you run all your errands. You go to the store, you pick out your own stuff, and you look at all the things. Honestly, here it’s not enjoyable to do that at all.
MACIAS: It’s such a task.
WANG: My friends are like, “Dorothy, you’re a New York girl now. Just get things delivered. We get everything delivered.” There’s no joy in going face-to-face here. I mean, you can literally get a candle delivered. That, to me, is always insane.
MACIAS: What did you do last night?
WANG: I went with some friends to RH Guesthouse. It’s actually right around here. It’s Restoration Hardware. They opened a hotel called The Guesthouse and they have dining rooms there. I found my favorite thing there, which is a crème brûlée banana split.
MACIAS: Oh my god.
WANG: It was delicious because it wasn’t too sweet. The whipped cream wasn’t sweetened, and the banana was perfectly brûléed. The caramel is salty and sweet. I’ve texted people about it.
MACIAS: That’s the prettiest banana split I’ve ever seen.
WANG: The food is really good here. How long have you lived here?
MACIAS: Going on seven years.
WANG: So you know the food is so good. There are so many new restaurants to try all the time.
MACIAS: Is this your first time living outside of Beverly Hills? What’s the biggest culture shock?
WANG: I did go to school in Dallas, I went to SMU for one year, but then I transferred back to USC. I think the hardest thing in the beginning for me was that people aren’t as outwardly nice. I guess now I’m realizing it’s more of a fake thing. In L.A., everyone is so bubbly and outwardly nice, but it’s a little fake. Here, everyone just kind of goes about their way.
MACIAS: Having been already on TV, what pushed you to do a reality TV show in a new place, especially New York?
WANG: Actually, originally, they had asked me to do the L.A. show. I was very apprehensive and unsure about that because I have my friends in L.A. and they [the Bling Empire cast] weren’t really my crew. It didn’t feel authentic to me. I also felt like that story’s been told. Everyone’s seen me running around Beverly Hills with my friends. And now suddenly, I’m going to jump in with another friend group and do the same thing? It felt redundant to me. I kept politely declining. Eventually, I told them I was moving to New York. The producers lit up and they were like, “Oh my god, we want to do a franchise in New York. You could do the spin-off. You could introduce us to your real-life friends and you can have a hand in molding and shaping it a little bit more.” That, to me, was interesting, because it’s a new story.
MACIAS: And it also presents a new opportunity for you.
WANG: Exactly. It’s a new experience, a new adventure to go on with everyone. For me, since it was such a big life change, it felt natural and normal that it would be documented. It’s part of my public story, I guess. So then, because I was doing New York, it went backward. I had to film a couple of episodes for L.A. I feel like I wasn’t ready because it was right after COVID. I wasn’t in the mix as much. I was going through some health things. I just wasn’t feeling my best or my feistiest.
MACIAS: And on reality television, people don’t know how to interact with you and get scared.
WANG: Yes, I do think people get a little scared. I remember this other girl on the New York show, I heard through the grapevine that she was scared of me, so I asked her why. She’s from Thailand and everything is very roundabout. They don’t say what they’re feeling. She’s like, “It’s really wonderful that you speak your mind. I’ve just never been around anyone like you before that can be so direct.”
MACIAS: Where are you living?
WANG: I live in Chelsea.
MACIAS: Do you love it?
WANG: Love it. I’m such a West Side girl. You can see the water. It’s nice. Even though I love SoHo and being out and about, I don’t want to see a million people on my way home. Chelsea feels energetically open to me.
MACIAS: How does your family feel about you going back into television?
WANG: “Okay, here she goes again.” I don’t think they’re surprised. When I film and when I don’t film, I’m the same. I’m still doing the same things, it’s just there’s a camera there. It’s not a huge change.
MACIAS: I went back and watched Rich Kids, then I watched the first episode of Bling Empire: NYC. It was so refreshing to watch you be yourself. Reality TV has changed so much and people engineer their personalities for television.
WANG: It’s too contrived. I think because now people have watched and they know what works, it’s almost too formulaic. People are just plugging products and plugging, and blah blah blah. I get pressure from that. “Oh, what are you going to do? What are you going to plug?” I just want to be myself and have fun. Let people be entertained and not have an agenda being shoved down their throats.
MACIAS: What do you think it means to be a reality TV star these days?
WANG: It’s more encompassing than just TV now. The way that the industry is, if you’re on TV, then they also may call you an influencer. They’re probably also going to call you a socialite. You wear so many different hats. I think that being a reality TV star is such a good platform to get yourself out there and be able to connect with people.
MACIAS: Right now, we’re at Pastis. But when you’re feeling a little bit dirtier, food-wise, what is your go-to?
WANG: I really like 7th Street Burger. I know that’s not fast food. I like Shake Shack. Once in a while, honestly, my friends will want to go to the Woodbury Commons Outlet. I get excited because there’s a Chipotle and a Cinnabon there. [Laughs] Being in a food court honestly felt like home. I didn’t even buy anything at the stores. I was just in the food court.
MACIAS: You need fuel before you shop.
MACIAS: What is your ideal Pastis order?
WANG: I usually like to eat in bigger groups, or even if it’s one-on-one, my friends know we’re going to order a lot of stuff. I like a taste of everything. I think that’s from growing up in a Chinese family. You’re eating family-style and you get a lot of different bites and different things. I like the steak tartar, the escargot, the onion soup, and the macaroni gratin is really good too, but it’s a little heavier. The lobster club is good. I usually come for dinner. The trout is really good because it’s cooked in brown butter with slivered almonds.
MACIAS: Would you consider yourself a foodie?
WANG: I’m definitely a foodie and a big connoisseur. There were these random three weeks where I was obsessed with restaurants in Brooklyn.
MACIAS: Which ones?
WANG: I went to Wen-wen. I went to Shalom Japan and Llama Inn. They were all so good.
MACIAS: I wouldn’t take you for a Brooklyn girl.
WANG: Oh, I went to Lucali. So good.
MACIAS: What do you miss most about Beverly Hills, if anything?
WANG: I honestly don’t miss it at all. I miss my family and I miss my friends there.
MACIAS: How does the party scene here compare to back home?
WANG: In L.A. you’d have these big major parties, but maybe once a month or once every two weeks. Then you don’t see your friends for two weeks. Everyone’s on a cleanse, on a fast, recovering, getting ready for the next thing. In New York, you can go out four or five times, but everything’s smaller. It’s not these huge productions. You never know what’s going to happen. You start with dinner, then you get espresso martinis, and you’re up until 4:00 a.m. It’s really so much fun and more about the people that you’re with, not so much where you go. In L.A., everyone’s just sitting at the pool and looking perfect, with full hair and makeup, and not having fun.
MACIAS: Are you impressed by your castmates?
WANG: There’s some that I am closer to than others. But they do impress me, just putting themselves out there. I think sometimes it’s hard for me to think back because it’s been a long time. I’ve always been such an open, public person. Even before I had a show, I lived my life the same way. I tell everyone everything and what I’m doing. I’m impressed that they were able to trust me and kind of take my lead, because I would tell them, “Loosen up or do this. It doesn’t matter. Don’t think so much.”
MACIAS: What kind of people do you admire?
WANG: I honestly admire most of the people that are genuinely good and that are honest. I’d rather you be honest than lie to me. Especially in big cities like this and L.A. It doesn’t matter who’s the most fun or the prettiest or whatever. If they make you feel like shit, why do you want to be around them? I have always been a really big fan of Kimora Lee Simmons growing up because when I watched Life in the Fab Lane, I finally felt like I saw someone that doesn’t just only look like me because she’s Asian, but her personality was big and bold like me. I think growing up in my culture, everyone expected me to be a little bit quieter, a little bit more subdued. The teachers, because I went to the same school as my sister, they’d be like, “Is this really your sister? What happened to her?” I was just so loud, candid, and opinionated. For someone who is Chinese, I feel like that’s very rare. So, when I saw her on her show, I was like, “Oh my god, it’s someone like me.”
MACIAS: That’s insane.
WANG: Thank you. I’ve always loved, admired, and respected her. She really shaped my personality. One year for my birthday my friends made me a sign and the theme for my birthday was called “Kimorathy.” And they morphed our photos together. Once I was leaving a massage and she actually stopped me and was like, “Hey girl, I really love your show. We should do some stuff together.” Now, I wouldn’t say we’re best friends, but we’re close. We text, we see each other, we sit next to each other and chit chat.
MACIAS: There are rumors she’s in talks to join Housewives of Beverly Hills.
WANG: Well, I’m trying to get her on here. So, we’ll see.
MACIAS: What’s more important: love or work?
WANG: Where’s your martini? I can’t take my picture yet. It just needs to be all set up. Love or work? I think love, because if you love your work then it’s like, you know? You have to love your life, you have to love your friends, and you have to love what you’re doing.
MACIAS: It seems like you’ve achieved that here in New York.
WANG: Everything’s aligning and everything feels good. I think I’m with the right people. I think who you surround yourself with really matters. It really nurtures you. There’s something nice about people who are always down. It builds you up in a certain way. I really feel like I’m with my tribe all the time. They’re not judgmental. They love me for how I am and take the good with the bad.
MACIAS: What was your first big job?
WANG: Actually, I guess my first job was a Nike commercial when I was a cheerleader in high school.
MACIAS: Where can we find that?
WANG: You don’t even see my face. You only saw my foot. The residuals are still pretty good. I remember they paid a lot.
MACIAS: Did you ever think about pursuing acting?
WANG: I hear that a lot. I don’t know if I can. I have a hard time being serious when you have to be serious.
MACIAS: How do you feel about being beautiful?
WANG: Aww. So, you think I’m beautiful? I think that is a big compliment because I think that beauty really comes from within. I think it’s nice to be perceived as beautiful because I think it’s not just a physical compliment.
MACIAS: How do you feel about marriage?
WANG: I mean, I love marriage. I’m not against marriage. I understand that it’s not really for everyone. I do sometimes feel like, “Is it outdated?” Maybe as bad as it sounds, you could be married for just five or six years and it doesn’t have to be lifelong. Then see what happens. I think that sometimes people look at marriage as something that you have to be locked into.
MACIAS: Is there romance in your life now?
WANG: I’m dating people.
MACIAS: Do guys suck less in L.A. or New York?
WANG: New York guys definitely suck less. I love New York boys.
MACIAS: In what ways?
WANG: I love how men in New York all have careers, but they’re also fun. I think in L.A. it’s very separate. The people that have careers and work only have careers and they would never go out because it’s a bad look. The guys that go out and are fun don’t really have jobs or careers or anything going for them. In New York, doctors, lawyers, and professionals, they all go out and have fun. I’m like that too. I need a mix. I want to go out and enjoy myself. I think the men in New York are more well-rounded in that way. I think they’re more intentional. They’re willing to be more savage.
MACIAS: Do you have any regrets?
WANG: I don’t take enough risks. Sometimes I wish I was a little wilder. I wish I was a little sluttier or I wish that I could just maybe let go a little bit. Maybe fail. When I was younger I would be like, “I can’t hang on them, because of X, Y and Z.” I put myself in a box and I was almost like this little princess-in-a-glass-castle type of feeling.
MACIAS: How would you describe Dorothy today?
WANG: Today I’m much more secure.
MACIAS: It’s palpable.
WANG: I’m having a lot of fun. Having fun is important and sometimes we forget that. It sounds almost childish. “Oh, adults should be working.” No, you still need to have fun. You still need to let loose, you still need to laugh. I really feel like I’m playing in a new pond. Honestly, I feel very grateful because I know not a lot of people can just decide, “I want a new life.” I’m thankful for my friends. I’m thankful for the show coming out. I always see those memes that you should wake up with a positive thought every morning, and I think it really does help. I sometimes joke with my friends that I feel like I’ve risen from the ashes.
MACIAS: So what’s your ultimate ambition?
WANG: My ultimate ambition is to be healthy and happy and be a good friend to people, to be nice and make an impact. I feel like not everyone is able to speak up and stand up for themselves. Sometimes I feel like god made me this way, very vocal, almost like a duty to stand up for the people who can’t. A lot of people in my culture, they’re always taught to just be quiet or let things go. I don’t overthink it. I’m honored that I can be a face for my community.
MACIAS: You’re owning it.
WANG: I only have one face. And, yes, it’s Asian. I’m just me. I do think it’s good to have visibility because even if you love us or hate us, at least for the show, it brings a little bit of awareness. People just need that point of contact with someone who is a different race than them. I think people need exposure and contact with people unlike themselves to be comfortable.
MACIAS: Do you think fame corrupts?
WANG: I don’t think fame is a bad thing, but I think that it can corrupt an already-corrupt person. Fame just amplifies everything in your life. It doesn’t control how you act, how you are, or your morals. It can get to your head. But in general, fame is not a bad thing.