In her new memoir, Smoke: How a Small-Town Girl Accidentally Wound Up Smuggling Seven Tons of Marijuana with the Pot Princess of Beverly Hills, Meili Cady has quite a story to tell. Soon after a teenage Cady moved to Los Angeles in hopes of breaking into the entertainment industry, she met the colorful Lisette Lee, who claimed to be a Samsung heiress and had the extravagant lifestyle to go with it. The two became friends and soon Cady was her personal assistant. Soon enough she was sucked into Lee’s drug-dealing enterprise, which ultimately resulted in a brief stay in prison and house arrest. Yahoo Style spoke to Cady about private jets, bad decisions, and whether Orange Is the New Black is very realistic.
Yahoo Style: How did you meet Lisette?
Meili Cady: I was introduced to her by an acquaintance, a mutual friend whom I had met at an acting studio. He knew I hadn’t made a lot of close girlfriends yet. He said, “I have a friend you’d get along with, she’s a Samsung heiress.” I wasn’t really sold on meeting her. Having money isn’t a bad thing but I couldn’t imagine what we would have to talk about. He brought it up again a few months later out of the blue and said, “She’s been asking about you and wants to meet you.” It hadn’t occurred to me she’d know who I was, and it was a little flattering.
YS: So how did you finally get together?
MC: She sent me a friend request on MySpace. She sent me a message and my impression of her changed. She was articulate and charming and witty. She had seen a lot of the world and was more savvy than I was and that drew me in. So we went shopping for an afternoon. I assumed it would be me following her around Rodeo Drive and praying I had enough money to stop for a latte. But instead she took us to this funky area on Melrose Avenue. She was down to earth and she said people commonly misjudged her.
YS: So she was pursuing you hard as a friend?
MC: She wanted to give me what she believed I was looking for. Something like this could happen to almost anyone.
YS: At what point were you like, “Maybe she’s not the Samsung heiress.”
MC: It never occurred to me that she wasn’t an heiress. Every single person in her life supported it, though Samsung has denied it. I don’t know that she is technically, but based on what I’ve seen and heard in court I think it’s plausible she is an illegitimate granddaughter of the founder of Samsung. However I lose no sleep at night wondering about it. I really don’t care.
YS: Do you wish she could just be gone from your life and you would never have to think about her again?
MC: I do wish she could be erased. I don’t ever want to hear from her again. I want her to stay this character that only lives in my book.
YS: Did you enjoy the lifestyle for a while? It all seemed pretty ostentatious.
MC: I’m not someone who chases luxury. I appreciate creature comforts. But it’s not like, “Wow this is something that elevates me above the rest of the world.” But once on a private plane, the captain asked if I wanted to sit in the jump seat. It was exhilarating.
YS: So did you get into this because you’re an adrenaline junkie?
MC: No, not at all. I’d grown up being that person that doesn’t want to ride with 4 people in the backseat of a care in case we get pulled over. You know: “You guys, I’m seriously uncomfortable.” At the same time, I think there’s a duality there. Part of me enjoyed moments that were betraying that careful side of me that was always dominant. Before I knew what was going on, I enjoyed the blissful ignorance.
YS: Beyond just the threat of the law, was it scary?
MC: There were shady characters, absolutely. A lot of people in the operation I would only know of in vague terms and knew it was meant to be that way to protect anonymity. The more I learned about what was going on, the more I feared knowing more. It seemed like dangerous information. It happened to be pot. I was lucky it wasn’t crystal meth.
YS: What do you think of the move toward the legalization of marijuana?
MC: I support the legalization of it. I don’t think people should drive stoned, but alcohol is far more dangerous.
YS: As someone who has spent time behind bars, does that change your day to day life or plans?
MC: Thus far it hasn’t curbed future plans. Having experiences that are unique can feed creativity. You can take negative experiences and explore them creatively.
YS: So how realistic is Orange Is the New Black?
MC: I feel a strong connection to it. I read the book prior to being sentenced. It wasn’t looking very good for me. The book had just come out. It felt like I wasn’t the only person to go through this thing. Piper and I had similar stories and backgrounds and it prepared me more than anything else did.
YS: And being in prison?
MC: There is a uniqueness to everyone’s story, but it’s all marked by a tragic turn. People are so naked and so raw there. You see a lot of beautiful friendships and people rebuilding their lives, reflecting, finding peace. But it’s a very sad place.