All about Anna Shay’s parents — Her controversial wealth discussed

Anna Shay

Anna Shay didn’t want to appear in Netflix’s Bling Empire, a reality series about rich Asians living in the United States. The concept of earning a living was alien to Shay as she’d grown up surrounded by immense wealth. She told Oprah Daily in 2021:

“I didn’t do anything except be born. It’s my parents. My dad is from the South Side of Chicago. My mother is from aristocracy. My mother said, ‘You were born in a crystal ball with a silver spoon.’” 

Furthermore, Shay valued privacy, preferring to enjoy her riches away from prying eyes. It’s, therefore, a bit surprising that she is one of the most popular cast members. 

Shay’s father’s job as a military defense contractor restricted her life

Anna Shay was born in Japan to Edward Shay and Ai Oizumi Shay. She spent eight years of her life in Tokyo before the family moved to Los Angeles. 

Edward Shay was the founder of Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), a military defense company. The nature of Edward’s job meant Shay lived a glamorous but restricted life. For instance, a security detail watched her every move. Shay told Tatler:

“My parents were so private because of what my father’s company did, right? So we grew up with security guards – the men in black – and yeah, I would just make fun of them and see if I could run away from them. I still do it now!”

Shay told the outlet that a good-looking guy at a club lost interest in her because of her security. Anna said she thought the man left because she declined his offer for a drink, but her friend alerted her to the real reason he fled. Anna explained:

“I was like this is not funny, maybe we were rude to him, maybe we should have had a drink. But then my friend said no, that’s not the reason. Look behind you. And there’s our security – I basically got cock-blocked by them. It happens all the time!”

Anna told Town & Country that for safety reasons, the Shays never traveled as a family – she would travel with her father, and Oizumi would travel with her brother. The parties would meet at their destination. 

The upside to living a restricted life was the luxury that came with it. Anna told Oprah Daily that having never worked before, she didn’t know what to do with the paychecks from Bling Empire. Shay said:

“I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t cash them, then I got in trouble for not cashing them. I have them in a savings account. I’d like to have a party some time. I don’t think the money belongs to me. I think it belongs to the crew that had to put up with me.”

Shay’s father’s company was accused of facilitating the deaths of thousands of Vietnamese

Kane Lim, Shay’s co-star, summarized the source of Shay’s wealth: “Her money comes from weapons. Her father sells bombs, guns, defense technology – and it’s worth, like, a few billion.”

Edward Shay passed away in 1995, leaving the company to Anna’s brother, Allen Shay. Allen and Anna sold PAE in 2006 for an estimated $1.2 billion in cash. 

The origins of Shay’s wealth have caused controversy due to PAE’s role in the deaths of thousands of Vietnamese. NBC News reported that research published by the University of Dallas detailed that PAE built interrogation facilities for the CIA in South Vietnam in the sixties as part of the Phoenix Program. 

The Program led to the deaths of over 20,000 Viet Cong suspects, according to William Colby, a former CIA head. “By providing cover to the CIA, the PAE, in constructing 44 interrogation sites, erected these extralegal spaces of U.S. violence and murder on foreign soil,” Vietnam War scholar Lien-Hang T. Nguyen said. 

Kimberly Kay Hoang of the University of Chicago added: “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.”

Regardless of her parents’ past, Anna appreciates the life they gave her and the values they instilled in her. She told Oprah Daily:

“My parents are my heroes because they have taught me values, morals, honor, respect, loyalty, and principles. These things are rare qualities today.”