“The #RichKids of Beverly Hills” became the E! network’s breakout reality show of 2014 and recently wrapped its second season on the air.
Made up of six wealthy best friends from the 90210 zip code, “Rich Kids” was inspired by the popular and outrageous Tumblr “Rich Kids of Instagram,” in which offspring of the super rich flaunt their yachts, diamonds, magnums of champagne, and more.
It was through this Tumblr that E! producers and casting directors found Dorothy Wang, the 26-year-old “funemployed” heiress to her father’s $US4 billion retail real estate fortune. Dorothy’s dad, Roger Wang, founded the Golden Eagle International Group in Nanjing and turned it into one of the country’s largest mall chains, with stores in 15 cities, according to Forbes.
“When Rich Kids Of Instagram launched, I was one of the main people they featured on the site,” Wang told Business Insider over the phone as she was sitting in L.A. traffic. “I was one of the first people they put on the Tumblr and then they kept putting me on it. So I was approached after producers at the network saw me on the Tumblr page and from there they asked me, ‘Would you ever want to do a reality show?’ and I responded, ‘Honestly, I thought I was living a reality show the last seven years of my life. Thank God cameras are going to be there so I’m not just posing into thin air for myself.'”
Casting Dorothy — who says she had no idea of her family’s wealth “until it was printed in Forbes” despite her collection of $US10,000 Hermés Birkin bags so large she “lost count” — was easy, but E! needed a whole cast of people just as outgoing and unabashedly outrageous as the self-described “fabuluxe” University of Southern California graduate.
“We went through the process of like, ‘Who’s in your life? Do you have any friends who are really outgoing?'” Dorothy explains of the reality show casting process. “I immediately thought of my friend Morgan Stewart. Morgan and I literally used to have pow-wows together after spin class being like, ‘We’re meant to be on TV! We know it’s going to happen.’ And then one day it did. I went in, we brought in other relevant people in our lives…It was called ‘The Morgan and Dorothy Project’ for the longest time.”
In order to round out the cast, Dorothy says, “There wasn’t an open call or a casting for the show at all. They wanted Morgan and I to do a show so we brought in our friends and they picked the ones who are on the show now. So, all of these people who are coming out of the woodwork saying they auditioned for the show, I’m like, ‘I was there, that’s not what happened.'”
The cast is currently made up of six Beverly Hills natives, including Magic Johnson’s flamboyant son, a self-described “Persian Princess” interior designer, a successful young real estate agent, and a songwriter.
As with any reality show, the cast has conflicts with each other, but it’s clear these friendships are real and have history that goes back further than when the cameras started rolling last year. The on-air conflicts haven’t been enough to tear the group apart just yet.
“I think we’ve all gotten a lot closer because it’s such a unique experience that has really taken over our lives and is our lives at the same time,” explains Dorothy. “I have a lot of friends outside of the show, but sometimes I don’t want to put them through an hour of me talking about the show so I just hang out with Morgan and Roxy so we can talk about what’s going on.”
While Dorothy was on board to showcase her life for the public, adjusting to people’s hateful comments online has taken some getting used to.
“I spent the first two weeks before and after the first episode aired basically crying and having anxiety attacks because it was so new to me,” Dorothy admits. “But once the show progressed, we really saw a shift. People were like, ‘Wait, we actually don’t hate you, we like you. You’re not annoying anymore.'”
Before the show aired, Dorothy had 26,000 followers on Instagram. Today she has 561,000 followers and counting, as well as a new outlook on her haters.
“Now when I do read the comments, I laugh at them,” she says. “It’s crazy stuff like a person wanting to stab me in a back alley with a turkey leg. Sometimes they say the funniest things, we literally just read them out loud to each other. It’s funny to us now. I think we’ve all developed a much thicker skin.”
So what does Dorothy’s influential dad think about his daughter’s newfound reality show fame?
“I literally waited until we had to sign our contracts to tell my family … but when I told my dad he was the most supportive. He said, ‘I would never do it, but for someone like you, I think it’s something you will enjoy and be good at, and it’s something you can do a lot of things with. You have an interesting story to tell. Yes, you’re a rich kid, but you are also so much more and this would allow you to show that to the world.'”
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