If you think that “famous on Instagram” doesn’t mean anything in real life, just meet Dorothy Wang. The outspoken 27-year-old star of E! reality show The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills first got her start Instagramming the perks of her luxurious lifestyle, complete with yachts, private jets, copious Champagne, and Hermès handbags.
Now at the start of its third season, the show is based on the popular site Rich Kids of Instagram, a blog devoted to documenting wealthy young heirs’ and heiresses’ lavish conspicuous consumption via social media. Thanks to Wang’s sharing of her extravagant life that she has self-described with the hashtags “#funemployed” and “#fabuluxe,” she was actually “discovered” by the show’s producers thanks exclusively to her prolific Instagram account. Now, she co-stars alongside fellow children of the elite (including the son of Magic Johnson and the daughter of David Hasselhoff) as one of its most memorable characters, delivering an endless stream of meme-worthy quotes and resolute opinions on everything from fashion faux pas to the etiquette of selfies. Some gems include, “I like to be within a five-mile radius of Barneys at all times,” and “Jet lag is tacky. I feel like if you get jet lag it just means you’re not well traveled.”
The daughter of billionaire retail real estate developer Roger Wang, Dorothy is also from one of many Chinese-American families in Beverly Hills that have cashed in big-time on China’s skyrocketing wealth. Her dad founded the Golden Eagle International Group in Nanjing, which is now one of the largest mall chains in China. Despite the fact that many wealthy business owners in China are remaining low-key amidst the country’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, her father’s business has featured prominently in Rich Kids. Last season, she brought the cast to see the company’s flagship location opening in Nanjing in order to film the show there.
In order to learn more about how Wang connects to China and her views on its rising wealth, we caught up with her for an interview about topics including China’s fashion scene, her favorite China hotspots, and what her parents think of her reality TV gig.
What can we expect from this upcoming season of the show?
This season definitely starts off with a lot of drama. I get caught in the middle of something that I had no intention of causing in the season premiere. You see me running out of my own birthday dinner because my friends accused me of something I didn’t do. While the season starts off very upsetting to me, it was almost a good thing, because it sparked me to focus on myself and my business now more than ever! You will get to see me build my lifestyle brand and all the new projects and ventures I’m working on. Outside of me, there is plenty of other drama throughout the season as well. Friendships definitely get tested and a lot of issues get revealed. It’s not all bad though! Brendan and Morgan do get engaged and we go on a wonderful trip to London!
Last season, you took the group on a trip to China to film there. Why was it important for you to bring them and have China be a part of the show?
It was very important for me to show my friends and the audience my heritage and culture. Even though I was born in Beverly Hills, I spend a lot of time in China and feel very connected to my ancestry. So when my dad was having an event at his flagship department store in Nanjing, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for my friends and the camera to come along! I really wanted everyone to love it as much as I do and hopefully learn a little bit more about me and where I came from!
Your family has business in China, and many wealthy Chinese business owners are avoiding public attention at the moment. Did your parents have any hesitation to your doing the show because of this?
When I told my parents about the show they were fully supportive. They said that it’s not something they would ever choose to do but they see why I should because I’ve grown up with a lot of personality, a love for entertaining, sharing my stories and adventures. They know I’m a good girl and I don’t have anything to hide or be ashamed of. I went to school, very good ones at that (Harvard-Westlake High School and University of Southern California), worked hard and now I’m working on my own career. I’m very ambitious, hard-working, and kind. I have a strong head on my shoulders and moral compass and they know that. They hope that I can show a different side of being a “rich kid” and I think I have been doing that.
Has there been any reaction to the show in China?
The show doesn’t actually air in China but I know a lot of people watch it online or stream. I think the people that actually watch the show, give it a chance, and get to know us find us all surprisingly likable and relatable. I do have to say though, there are also some negative reports. My family has seen some untrue and very critical articles about me in China and it’s hard for them because they know I’m not how they are portraying me in the press over there. I understand there is a strong stigma right now against the “second-generation” fuerdai, but I really am not like them at all. I think because of the title of the show they want to automatically place me in that group, but everyone who knows me and all my parents’ friends in China, they know that’s not how I am.
Your active Instagram account was what propelled you to fame for the show—do you have many Chinese fans and are you active on any Chinese social media?
Yes I do have a lot of Chinese fans that follow me on my social media! I love reading their comments. A lot of them say they are happy to finally see a Chinese face on American TV, and that makes me really happy. I am not currently on any Chinese social media! My mom and her friends had me join WeChat, does that count?
When you visit China, what are your favorite “hotspots” right now?
Well I actually just got back from Hong Kong today! I was there for two weeks with my family. My sister just had a baby! I’m an auntie now! When we travel, we always love to enjoy the local hotspots. We try to avoid the fancy, westernized restaurants actually. We love going to those hole-in-the-wall places! This trip, we went to Mak’s Noodle on Wellington Street for wonton noodles and YiLe on Stanley Street for goose many times! Some days we would walk from one shop to the next! I love dim sum, and we went to Summer Palace and China Tang. I also love Taipei; my grandmother and uncles on my mother’s side live there, so I love to visit as much as I can. I love their fresh fruits and different snacks! And I love the shaved ice with glutinous rice balls, grass jelly, red beans, etc.! My mom always says, even though I grew up in the United States, I have a traditional Chinese appetite!
You’ve been visiting China throughout your whole life—what kind of changes have you seen over that time in terms of the country’s rising wealth?
I remember the first time I went to China, it was for my dad’s first department store opening in Nanjing. I believe it was 1992 so I was about 4 years old. My first comment once we got in the car was “Why does everyone hang their underwear outside?” At that time, especially in a secondary city like Nanjing, not many people had washers or dryers, and everyone washed and hung their laundry outside their window. I never saw that in the United States before! Every time I came back to China I felt like it was different, more advanced in some way; it really is crazy how quickly it developed. There was constant construction of new buildings and attractions; that was also something I didn’t see in the United States.
What do you think of China’s fashion scene right now?
I think China’s fashion scene is definitely on the rise. Fan Bingbing was stunning at the Met Gala! Aside from having major Chinese influencers in the fashion world, there is also more of an interest in fashion amongst the people, young and old. Social media has made the world way more connected; this is true in the fashion world as well. Fashions and trends are all accessible now though one shared photo or click of a button. Someone in Xi’an can feel like they’re front row at Paris Fashion Week; it’s amazing.
A lot of Western luxury brands have been creating special-edition items for Chinese consumers with colors like red and gold and images of the year’s zodiac animal for Chinese New Year. Do you think this stuff is stylish or are they missing the mark?
I think that it has to be done correctly, and artfully. I always love seeing the special edition “Chinese New Year” designs. I’ve seen some good and some horrendous, but either way, it really goes to prove China’s rising wealth and consumer purchasing power!
Tell us about your line of hashtag necklaces. Where can fans in China purchase them?
The necklaces were my first venture, my first attempt of starting my own small business. I really did everything from the ground up, it was a lot of work and definitely frustrating at times but it was totally worth it. I wanted to start small, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew and risk failing! I also wanted to make them affordable; they range from $28-$32 USD, so all of my fans and viewers could purchase them. I mix high-price and low-price items all the time, so I wanted to create a fun, high-quality product that didn’t break the bank! You can purchase them on my website, DorothyWang.com; we ship internationally for just $12.99!
What’s next for Dorothy Wang?
Well I have been working on a champagne line called “Rich and Bubbly” and that will be available next month! I’ve always loved champagne and again, I wanted to figure out a way to make a luxury product affordable without compromising the quality. My champagne line will range from $15-$70 USD and will also be available on DorothyWang.com. I do hope to get it into some retail stores worldwide though! I love having a TV show, showcasing my life, and connecting with my fans and sharing my thoughts and opinions with them! I would like to be able to spend more time in Asia and do more stuff over there! Eventually, I would LOVE to do a food, travel, lifestyle show! Everyone knows how much I love food and am an expert traveler so I think it would be really fun to have a show all about traveling to exotic places, exploring their culture, and trying their best dishes!