This was posted Saturday, March 23, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Lovely Mimi, an Instagram sensation with more than 1.2 million followers, was recruited to join "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" and add Asian spice to what has been a fully African-American cast.
She will appear for the first time on the fourth episode of this season on Monday, based on the trailer that aired last week.
Like most folks on the show, she will be a recurring character and how often she appears is largely dependent on how the producers like her and what stories she can produce. Dozens of people over six seasons have come and gone.
Miyha "Lovely Mimi" Thi Luong is a Vietnamese American who owned a nail salon in Maryland. She moved to Atlanta for the show last fall and purchased as shop on Old National Highway she dubs UltraViolet Nail Lounge in College Park.
"I like the hood spot," she said in an interview a few days ago. "It came with workers. I have some new ones, some old ones. It's right off the highway."
Like many people who are approached for "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta," she hesitated. She was familiar with the show more from social media than watching it on TV. "It took me a long time to accept the deal," she said, "because it's drama. It breaks up families. It makes you look bad. There's all types of crazy stuff I didn't know what I was getting into. Then I realized it's what I'm going to make out of it. Let's give it a try!"
The lure, of course, is the potential to become a bigger star. And since she already hosts parties, this could help her get more gigs, even if the pay from the show itself at this point is modest.
Doing the show, she said, "is like living a double life. I have my story land life and my real life."
She came in without knowing anybody but connected with regular cast member Tommie Lee (who has 1 million Instagram followers.) "She's not that bougie like a lot of the other women," she said. "We share a lot a similar background with that juvie lifestyle."
I had to ask her what a 'juvie lifestyle' meant.
She grew up with strict parents and rebelled as a teenager. "My parents were so old school, they didn't understand me," she said. It didn't help that they were poor, she added. Kids made fun of her until she figured out what was cool around fifth grade.
She'd run away a lot and get into trouble. She ended up in group homes and juvenile detention centers. "I was never in high school or even middle school," she said.
Nail work was a good job to do with no education, Mimi said. "When you're Asian," she said, "you do nails."
She said her Instagram following in recent years came to be thanks to luck and personality. She had purchased a nail salon shop in Maryland and was seeking to build some buzz so she began doing videos and following girls to get them to come to her salon. Some of her videos (like "But Why Mimi") went viral after people began sharing them. She said celebrities like Da Brat and Snoop Dogg shared them. (Warning: she curses a bit in the video.)
"I wasn’t trying" to build a huge audience at first, she said. "I had fun. I didn't know it would go the way it did." She said there are YouTube videos where people compiled some of her best videos together.
Fans wrote blog entries about her, calling her that "ratchet Asian girl." That could be taken as an insult but it was music to the "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" producers ears because the show is all about "ratchet."
"I didn't mind" being called ratchet," she said. "I talk a lot about different stereotypes. I run with it. I make jokes about it."
And she teased that she will indeed get ratchet on the show but she couldn't provide details. (Some gossip sites already have some possible fights in the offing)
She is married to a man who manages her and has two kids, ages 8 and 3. Her husband is really low key, she said, so he will not appear on "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta." "He's real chill," she said. "We complement each other."
Her ultimate goal is similar to those of others on the show: "I want to build my brand. I want to open up another nail salon. I want to do more show gigs, acting. I enjoy hosting parties. I'm excited."
"Love and Hip Hop Atlanta," 8 p.m. Mondays, VH1