EXCLUSIVE: Bling Empire star Kevin Kreider, 39, reveals he was paid LESS than a UPS worker for starring in hit Netflix show about wealth and excess – admitting he can’t even afford a CAR because reality TV wages are so low
- The actor, 39, was in all three seasons before the show was canceled last year
- He claims he worked for lower than minimum wage for his appearance
- READ MORE: Love Is Blind star Nick Thompson reveals he is on the brink of HOMELESSNESS
Bling Empire star Kevin Kreider has revealed that he was paid less than a UPS driver while filming for three seasons of the hit Netflix reality show – and has now been left unable to even afford to buy a car because of the criminally low reality star wages.
The 39-year-old actor featured in all three seasons of the unscripted docu-series which followed the lives of wealthy, materialistic East and Southeast Asian Americans based in the Los Angeles area, before it was shelved last year.
Kevin was part of the main cast and first appeared on screen with the late billionaire heiress Anna Shay, who died ‘unexpectedly’ in June following a stroke aged 62.
Despite starring alongside a string of shockingly wealthy cast members, Kevin didn’t share the same flush background and was positioned as an outsider in the show and often treated to lavish gifts from Shay.
Getting real about reality show pay: Kevin Kreider has revealed that he earned less than UPS driver for his time on Bling Empire
Careful: The 39-year-old actor isn’t able to afford his own vehicle and often relies on friends for lifts
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Kevin has now shed light on how little he earned – despite the grueling filming schedule – and how the exposure from being on television doesn’t necessarily translate to living a life of luxury.
It comes after former Love Is Blind star Nick Thompson revealed he is on the brink of losing his home after being paid less than minimum wage for appearing in season two of the dating program.
‘UPS workers were paid more than I was, and they have benefits,’ he said. ‘That’s how little we got paid.’
For context, a UPS delivery driver can expect to make around $18 per hour, with a warehouse package handler set to take home a similar wage. The minimum wage in the state of California is $15.50, compared to $15 national minimum wage.
‘I heard how much a friend of mine was making for a pilot and he wasn’t even the main lead, yet he made more than I did in a whole season of Bling Empire,’ he continued. ‘I worked my ass off for Bling. I mean, I was literally filming almost every day.
‘We had to be available for almost a whole year. I dragged my ass to like a three, six-hour interviews. So, when you put the hours together, I worked probably lower than minimum wage.’
DailyMail.com has approached Netflix for comment.
‘If we went into another season, yeah sure I’d get paid more fairly, but because we were a newer show we didn’t get paid that much,’ Kevin said.
Stuck renting: Kevin is also unable to get out of the cycle of property rental in Los Angeles
Hustling: Kevin told DailyMail.com he ‘worked my ass off’ for Bling Empire and filmed almost ‘every day’
Core cast member: Kevin featured in all three seasons of the unscripted docu-series, which was canceled last year
Not all glitz and glamor: He revealed that just because he starred on the Netflix series, he’s ‘not just sitting here [on] Easy Street’
‘Nobody tells you to as a minority that you’re gonna have to bust your ass,’ he added. ‘I’m hustling to try to get brand deals.
‘With reality TV, you either get paid zero or barely anything at all.’
Kevin pointed out that studios lure you with the idea of branding and recognition, however making money after a show has gone to air is, of course, never guaranteed.
‘I’m going to all these empty promise network deals, I do speaking events, I’m writing a memoir, novels comic books, striking deals, like all this stuff, but none of it came to me, I had to go out and get it. So, it’s not like I’m just sitting here [on] Easy Street.’
Pulling the curtain on the supposed glamour and luxury of Hollywood, Kevin opened up about his financial situation and shared that while he has made enough to get by, he’s not swimming in cash.
‘I can’t buy a home in Los Angeles, I still have to rent,’ he said. ‘I don’t even have a car because I chose to live in a nicer apartment. It was either downgrade and rent a studio and have a car or have a nicer one bedroom and not have a car.
‘I still have friends picking me up driving me in places, you know, like, it’s not all that great.’
Different world: Bling Empire followed the lives of wealthy, materialistic East and Southeast Asian Americans based in the Los Angeles area
While Kevin is supportive of the ongoing SAG-AFRA and WGA strikes, he is conflicted by the idea of reality stars taking industrial action too.
‘Reality TV is always used as a fallback,’ he said. ‘I understand why there is a strike. I kind of wish the reality TV people would also be under strike and yet at the same time, I wish they weren’t because currently, that’s the only thing making me money.
‘I really wish TV would actually reward the talent that’s so unique and rare… and I would like to get paid better because there was a ton of viewers [on Bling Empire] and we didn’t make a dime.’
On Thursday, SAG-AFRA declared it was standing by Real Housewives of New York alum Bethenny Frankel and fellow reality stars is their mission to unionize.
While Kevin stressed his hopes for actors and reality stars to join forces, he feels shunned by the acting world for having worked in reality television. ‘A lot of actors look down on reality TV people,’ he pointed out.
‘There’s a little bit of an ego fight right there where they think that we’re tarnishing their craft, but, they’re making it harder by not accepting us.
‘You know, I use a lot of my acting skills to help me with the show to bring out the best of me and storytelling. And so, I really wish the acting community would have a little bit more respect.
‘I do want to be seen as a serious actor and artist, which is where I came from. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into only doing reality TV shows. But what’s sad is even my friends who are in TV and film only see me as that. And it’s kind of sad because that’s not where I come from.’
Giving his verdict: Kevin wasn’t surprised that Bling Empire was canceled by Netflix
Cut short: Bring Empire premiered in January 2021, with season two arriving in May 2022 and the third and final series airing in October 2022
Bling Empire was canned by Netflix in April, six months after its last season aired. Kevin said he ‘wasn’t surprised’ that the show was shelved.
‘I knew our viewership wasn’t as strong,’ he said. ‘The pandemic was the perfect formulation for us to succeed because nobody was filming, and everybody was watching Netflix and all the online streaming platforms, so we had a big chance there.
‘I pandemic was also a perfect recipe for also the disaster of Bling Empire because it blew up so big, so fast and then suddenly, you mix fame with narcissism and rich people and control.’
The second season filmed during the pandemic as lockdown restrictions began to ease.
‘We had nothing blingy about season two because we can only go to restaurants, and you couldn’t even have real life stuff because people didn’t have any real-life stuff going on except staying at home.’
Revealing that he believes white privilege had a part to play in Bling Empire’s demise, Kevin added: ‘The number one Netflix reality shows right now didn’t even have a good first and second season rating, but they still got another chance.
‘We weren’t as strong, and they canceled us.
‘We’re Asians, we’re hard on ourselves, we come from a place of privilege, I get it. I don’t think we were the easiest cast to work with ever. People didn’t show up like it was a job. I think a lot of us got a little bit too cocky, a little bit too far ahead of ourselves.’
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