Prestige Circle: Everything You Need to Know About Bling Empire’s Nam Laks (2024)

Famously dubbed the ‘Blair Waldorf of Thailand’ on Netflix’s latest season of Bling Empire: New York, life for Bangkok-born rising star Nam Laks just hasn’t been the same since the popular reality TV spin-off made its sensational global premiere earlier this year.

Money, power, fame, and all that glam – these are just some of the components that contributed to the success of the first season of Bling Empire: New York, which premiered earlier this year. Following the lives of Asia’s ultra-rich socialites in The Big Apple, this reality TV sensation –a spin-off of the original West Coast Bling Empire –takes viewers behind the scenes of some real-life “Crazy Rich Asians”.

Of course, what makes this new series extra special for Thai audiences is the introduction of the very first Thai cast member: Karnjika “Nam” Laksanakarn (known as Nam Laks). Famously introduced – with that iconic hair flip scene of hers – as the ‘Blair Waldorf of Thailand’, she’s a self-described “daddy’s girl” and heiress to a fortune back home. With her personality, style, and obvious charm, Nam quickly became an overnight sensation, with fans from all over the world wanting to know more. As our first-ever digital cover star at the end of March, Prestige sat down with the star herself to get to know about her life beyond the screen.

Bangkok born and raised, Nam was quite the wild child during her younger days. She began her education at the International School of Bangkok, then moved to the UK for a couple years to study at Woldingham School in Surrey, before coming back to finish her high school at Harrow International School.She later obtained a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Manchester, and a Master’s from Columbia University.

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How did your role on Bling Empire: New York come about?

Jeff Jenkins Productions (JJP), the company behind the show, found a scout who asked a friend, who then asked another friend, and then finally a friend of mine, if they knew anyone who would fit the role. My friend reached out and was like, “you’d be perfect”, and asked if I wanted to do it.I thought, why not? He then hooked me up with a producer, I did a couple interviews, and I auditioned before I got the role. I think they saw my character and thought that I would really fit with what they were looking for… you know, quite a spoiled and bratty person, but also super sweet.

It was my first time being on a reality TV show, so I had no idea what to expect. It also doesn’t help that I’ve never really watched reality shows before either. I’d only watched K-dramas and anime. So, in that regard it was very stressful. Nothing was scripted, but you still had to plan for each scene, so there was this stress of uncertainty… how do I be myself without losing myself.

What I loved about Bling though was the cast and crew. They’re all great people. Looking back on it now, it was such a unique experience. At first I was outside my comfort zone, and things were very different, but when I became more comfortable the shooting got a lot more fun. I also obviously loved all my looks on the show, and the whole process of styling and getting ready for the shoot. I like how that turned out in the end.

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What did it feel like to see yourself on screen the first time?

The first time, I just couldn’t look at myself on the screen! I kept telling my friend to watch it for me, and told her that I didn’t want to see it. I was so nervous. Like I said, this was my first time being on a reality show, so I didn’t know how I would really be portrayed. I’m quite the clumsy person, especially when I’m out of my comfort zone, and on that first entrance that I made I really did trip. I begged the producers to take that out, but of course they didn’t (laughs).

How did your family and friends react to your role?

All my friends thought it was fabulous. They also mentioned how the scenes flew so naturally. Whether they knew it was scripted or not, they thought I was very natural in it. Then there was my dad. At first, he was very reluctant for me to do the show, but I think when he saw me on it he was like, “It’s not that bad”. And he found it quite funny that my character was like this. I would like to say he’s proud of me, but he would never admit that.

Who is your closest co-star on the show?

I would say perhaps Blake, and after that I would group Richard, Deborah, and Vika. I spoke to Blake the most during and after filming. He’s just always there, and he’s someone I always communicate with. We have a sort of brother-sister relationship. He is a very caring and considerate person, so he’d always be there to encourage and guide me.

You’ve been called the ‘Blair Waldorf of Thailand’, a reference to the iconic character from the series Gossip Girl. Is this a fair assessment?

Oh my God, you know what? I’ve always loved Blair Waldorf, and I am so grateful for the nickname. But I don’t think I match her. She is a whole lot smarter and definitely more of a fashion icon than I am. Also, I want to be my own person. I don’t want to be Blair Waldorf, I want to be Nam Laks.

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So… who is the real Nam Laks?

Who indeed? There are definitely parts of me that are really me on the show, but at the same time you need to understand that production, editing, and cuts mean that not everything you see is “real”. I would definitely say that I am spoiled, and I own up to it, but I am not that spoiled. And yes, I’m definitely a daddy’s girl.

But I wish my compassionate side came out more. I get really happy when fans come up to me and say, “Even if you portray such a spoiled character, we can see that you’re such a loving person who genuinely cares about other people”. And honestly, this also might be the reason why I got the role, because I was told during casting that I came off as very natural and genuine.

How do you feel about being the first Thai cast member?

I feel pressure, because I don’t know if Thai people want to be represented in this way. A lot of my character revolves around me being just a spoiled brat. But that said, I do think that I bring out a lot of the characteristics that Thai people have –that Thai culture has – like sincerity, kindness, and caring. Thai people also really love luxe things, and that was definitely what my character gave out.

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Fans rave about your wardrobe choices. How would you describe your personal style?

First of all, I would like to thank my stylist, Kim Bui, for opening me up into the world of “fashun”. Through working with her I’ve been able to experiment with many different styles. But the look always has to be chic and, at the end of the day, well put together. Nowadays, I’d say my style is feminine chic.

My favourite website to go to when I need something, or if there’s a wardrobe emergency, would be Net-A-Porter. I also love Thai clothing brands such as Vvon Sugunnasil, Vatanika, BOYY, and Iradaa. As for staples, I always bring my sunglasses with me while on the road. Those come in really handy, especially on no-makeup days. Oh, and fashion tapes! This is quite random, but honestly, you can have wardrobe emergencies all the time, and fashion tapes can always come to the rescue.

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You’re also often seen – on and off screen – wearing jewellery from the Thai brand Matara.

I love that Matara’s pieces are very classic and versatile, and I love the quality of the pearls. The collections do look luxe, but some items can also be worn every day, which is what makes them unique. They’re quite versatile. The founder and designer, Jongjin Jungsura, is also very passionate, and it really shines through in her work.

What are your biggest beauty secrets?

My beauty secret is to always mask before a glam day. It makes your skin fresh and moisturised, and your makeup just sits perfectly on it. Right now, I’m in love with Augustinus Bader Rich Cream. It just feels so good on my skin. I also cannot live without under eye mask gels.

What are your plans after this season of Bling Empire: New York? Will we be seeing more of you?

I hope so! Discussions are in the works for Season 2, so we hope good things will come out of that. As for what I’m currently doing, I’m just taking some time off to be with my family and friends back home, and helping out with the business.

Ever since Bling came out, it has been a little overwhelming.I personally think fame is nice, but fame is fleeting. That’s why I don’t expect much from it. You can be popular one day and maybe the next day no one will care about you anymore. So, I don’t cling to fame. I just stick with the people who really love and want the best for me. I’m close to both my parents, but in different ways – things I would talk to my mom about, I might not mention to my dad, and vice versa. When I’m at home, I know my role. I am still very much me, as the older sister to my younger brother Nino.

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Which city do you prefer, Bangkok or New York?

I am not going to choose because I love them both so much. New York is a beast, with an energy all its own. There’s a reason why people call it the city that never sleeps. Bangkok, on the other hand, is more relaxing and chill, while having all the components of a big city – from the nightlife to the bustle, the crowds, and the various attractions.

In Bangkok I frequent , just to unwind, ground myself, and just go for a massage or two. I also love hotels, and they’re where I chill out most of the time nowadays. My staples would be The St. Regis Bangkok and Capella Bangkok. In New York it would be The Langham (laughs). I just love my apartment and the vibe so much. Central Park is also so beautiful, I never get bored of visiting. In terms of food, I can always count on Estela NYC for the best meals.

We just have to ask… are you seeing anyone at the moment?

Not telling! But here are the qualities I look for in a partner: maturity, someone who can push me to be a better person, and someone who makes me laugh. Chemistry is also very important. If the chemistry is not there, it’s just not going to work, honey. Most importantly though, I really value someone who loves their family a lot. To be with someone who shares these same core values is very important.

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Have your aspirations in life changed in the wake of the show’s success?

My aspirations in life? Hmmm… well, I’m not going to tell you everything, you guys will just have to find out! And you’ll hopefully see it in the next season! (laughs). You’ll see soon where I end up. All in all though, I think things are falling more and more into place, and my path has been a lot clearer recently. Right now, I am just sticking to bettering myself every day. I’m a very family-oriented person, which I spoke about a lot in the series, but that all got cut, which is really sad.

Finally, tell us about your Lakshome bakery business. Is the chocolate lava cake as good as everyone claims?

First of all, the chocolate lava cake IS as good as everyone claims, that’s why it went viral. My personal favourite, however, is the coconut pandan cake. Lakshome works as a more collaborative project between myself and my family, and I’ve been involved in it from the start. My aunt –who went to Le Cordon Bleu in London –does all the baking and cooking though. I am no cook, as you can see on Bling.

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For Jongjin “Jin” Jungsura, Co-founder of leading Thai jewellery brand Matara and who was also recognised on Prestige’s 2022 “40 Under 40” list, it came as quite a shock initially when she heard that Nam was seen wearing pieces from her brand on Bling Empire: New York.

“I was very happy too, of course,” she recalls. “Some friends saw Nam wearing pieces from Matara on the show and sent me screenshots. I knew my jewellery was going to be featured because Nam is one of our loyal customers and I made the signature, made-to-measure poncho-style piece especially for her. But what I didn’t know was that she was going to be wearing it during the interview room segments, which were part of every single episode!”

According to Jin, the response from friends and acquaintances in both Thailand and abroad was extremely positive, with many enquiries as well from potential customers – especially for the military-style poncho, which is entirely handmade and so intricate that it takes a minimum of six months to put together. “We want to bring the fun back to wearing pearl jewellery,” Jin says. “Our collections cater for all ages, and each piece can be viewed as wearable art.”

Photographer: Punsiri Siriwetchapun
Fashion Director: Kim Bui Kollar
Stylist: Panchanitch Rattanawilai
Makeup Artist: Nontalee Wongpeng
Hair Stylist: Phusit Kitthanajinda
Editorial Coordinator: Jettana Tang
Location: The Salil Hotel Riverside Bangkok

Prestige Circle: Everything You Need to Know About Bling Empire’s Nam Laks (2024)
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