Anna Shay is the real queen of 'Bling Empire'—here's why

We've missed our life guru Anna Shay, but she's now back on our screens

Bling Empire. Anna Shay in episode 106 of Bling Empire. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix ©
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix is the gift that keeps on giving and one of its best presents ever (and we mean it) is Anna Shay, star of the reality TV show Bling Empire

The show follows a group of seriously rich Asian-Americans in LA, including matriarch Anna Shay—who tries to share her wisdom with the younger cast members. And this lady knows her stuff too —there really ain't no dick that good (sorry Kelly and Andrew!). Yes, the mantra still rings true over a year since she first dropped the gem on the inaugural season of the show. It's also one of many lines that had viewers questioning: is Bling Empire real or scripted? But we have a feeling that was all Ms. Shay. 

Now that Bling Empire season two is finally here (after a long absence that meant we ran out of shows like Bling Empire)—here's what to know about the fabulous (and previously very private) Anna Shay...

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How old is Anna Shay?

Anna Shay is 61 years old. She was reportedly born in 1960 and celebrated her 60th birthday on December 31, 2020. 

Considering all other cast members—including Kelly Mi Li, Kevin Kreider and Kim Lee—are all a lot younger, it's no wonder Anna is the one they go to when they need advice. Well, maybe not Christine...

Who was Anna Shay's father, Edward Shay?

Anna is the daughter of late American billionaire businessman Edward Shay and Japanese-Russian mother Ai Oizumi Shay.

Edward Shay was the founder of Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), a defense contractor that worked with the United Nations and the U.S. government. He died in 1995. 

In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine (opens in new tab), Anna said her parents are her heroes: “My father, mother, and son. My parents are my heroes because they have taught me values, morals, honor, respect, loyalty, and principles. These things are rare qualities today."

What is Anna Shay's net worth and where does her money come from?

Anna Shay’s net worth is reported to be approximated at $600 million. But now that she is the star of a Netflix show, we're certain that that total has gone up. 

The Shay family's money has been linked to some of the 'ugliest aspects' of the Vietnam War. According to NBC (opens in new tab), which cited research published by the University of Texas at Dallas, the CIA hired Anna's father's company to build interrogation facilities in South Vietnam in 1964. 

Kimberly Kay Hoang, director of global studies at the University of Chicago, told NBC: "How do we forget this history? And why do we not think about the source of funds? Somehow she can be in Beverly Hills and be living the good life, and no one raises questions about where that money came from."

Who is Anna Shay's son, Kenny Kemp?

Anna Shay's son is 29-year-old Kenny Kemp. While there's not much known about him, Kenny is the proud owner of a "collection of bongs worth half a million dollars," reports Buzzfeed News (opens in new tab).  

Anna also mentioned her son in an interview with Oprahmag.com (opens in new tab), saying his friends are always asking her advice. 

"I need to grow up a little bit", she said, referring to her fellow Bling Empire cast members. "Sometimes I think the other cast members are too serious. And I think the way that we grew up is very different. I had to put them in check. I'm not here to raise them. I'm here to make sure they're OK. My son [Kenny Kemp] is 27. His friends are always over, asking me for advice. I've always been around kids as my mother was with me."

Who are Anna Shay's ex-husbands?

Anna has been married and divorced four times, all of which she says were amicable breakups. However, she has not made any of the names of her ex-husbands known to the media, valuing her privacy. 

What is Anna Shay's ethnic background?

Anna Shay is Japanese, Russian, and American. Her mother, Ai Oizumi Shay, was part Japanese and part Russian, while her father, Edward Shay, was a white American from the South Side of Chicago.

What does Anna Shay do for a living?

In 2006, Anna and her younger brother Allen sold their father's business for $1.2 billion. While he was alive, her father never wanted her to work but despite this, she has done a lot of philanthropy. She previously served as a board member for the George Lopez Foundation (opens in new tab), which raises awareness about kidney disease and organ donation. She has also worked for the Shay Foundation, a program focusing on education, arts, performing arts, and music, which was founded by her late parents. 

She, of course, is now also a reality TV star thanks to the show. However, it isn't something she ever imagined for herself. "Did I expect the show to be successful? No," she told People. "I wasn't even expecting to be in front of the camera. I'm very shy and I went along with whatever situation was happening. I was just being me. I think the success of the show has a lot to do with how Netflix, Jeff Jenkins and his production company handled things. It's really thanks to them."

Anna Shay and Kevin Kreider's relationship

Some fans of the show might have become confused by how close these two seemed to be in season one. After all, who can forget Anna casually changing in front of everyone (including Kev) during the shopping session at her house? But if you thought there was something romantic going on or that Anna could be trying to buy Kevin's friendship or loyalty, fear not—this is classic Anna Shay. 

Money is clearly no object for our TV hero and it seems that Anna simply likes to see her loved ones happy— that included buying Kevin some stylish new clothes (remember how priceless his reaction was?). If you need more proof, just know that Anna didn't even realize she had been paid for the Netflix show and only went to collect the checks when someone told her she had to. She saved the money to have a party with the crew, eventually. So sweet! 

As for her other castmates, Anna is also close with Kane and Chèrie. "Kane, Chèrie, and Chèrie's daughter, J'adore," she told People when asked who she had formed real friendships with. "I didn't know them before the show." This might get awkward now Chèrie seemingly had a bit of drama with the cast of the show and is likely gone from the show for good but we bet they will remain close in private. Maybe Anna will mention her in season three of Bling Empire?

Anna Shay in her younger days

Anna has shared a few throwback pictures of herself on Instagram when she was younger, including this one below...ooh la la!  

Oh, and these days, she's a redhead, having switched up her hair color to this fiery new shade of burgundy. We love it! 

We're hoping to see more of this look on season two of Bling Empire!  

Mariana is Editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for titles including woman&home and Goodto, covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle — from beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with reality TV (Love Island memes included) and spends far too much time checking her horoscope and figuring out the perfect curly hair routine.