Chapter 13 — Opportunity
“Respectfully greeting Imperial Father,” Princess Dangli, daughter of Emperor Wu of Han, performed a ritual. This represented both the dignity and etiquette of a princess, as well as the close relationship she shared with him.
“Very good. Cut!” Teacher Xu waved his hand at the crew.
Ning Xi turned to see Zhou Haili trembling as she stood up. She reached out to help her up and smiled.
Since the filming had ended, Ning Xi relaxed. She sat on the chair, her heart racing. It was too stressful filming with such elite actors. In fact, she was almost done in by them.
“Sister Ning,” Xiao Yang poured a cup of honey and red dates tea for Ning Xi and whispered, “you look really beautiful in that costume.”
Ning Xi opened her eyes, looking at Xiao Yang, and laughed.
Seeing this laugh, Xiao Yang was momentarily stunned. She held her warm, red cheeks and drank half of Ning Xi’s tea.
When Zhang Qingyun came over, he saw this scene. He hesitated, before approaching Ning Xi. “You have two scenes with Zhou Haili today.”
Although Zhou Haili wasn’t talked about as much as the young artists these days, her status and contacts in the entertainment circle were incomparable with an ordinary artist’s. With her status, even the investors of ‘Yunyue of Han Dynasty‘ had two give her a little respect.
Ning Xi knew that Zhang Qingyun was reminding her not to offend Zhou Haili, so she nodded silently. She turned back to the script and continued to memorise her lines.
On the other side, several assistants and makeup artists were buzzing around Zhou Haili. She was casually turning her script, talking to Director Xu. “The newcomer I just acted with is not bad.”
“She must be really good to get your compliment.” Director Xu’s words praised both Ning Xi and Zhou Haili.
“We have been friends for so many years, there’s no need for you to be so sly.” Zhou Haili looked at Director Xu from the corner of her eye and said, “Some time ago, Old Qian requested for me to play a role. He was chatting with me, complaining that the role was very important but he hadn’t found a suitable actor for it, yet.”
Director Xu’s face changed slightly. “Qian Cong Hai’s high investment project, ‘Tán Hǎixiān jì‘?”
The total investment for ‘Tán Hǎixiān jì‘ was nearly a hundred million; it was the most expensive Xianxia film made in the recent years. Even though the filming had not yet started, it had already begun to attract a lot of attention.
“Which is this important supporting role?” Director Xu knew that Qian Cong Hai had a bad habit of accepting nothing less than perfect. If he wanted to make a movie according to his imagination, he could drag a project for three or five years. Despite this, investors liked this director. If it was found that Qian Cong Hai was making a movie, there would always be someone to invest in it.
They were all directors, but the difference between them was not little.
“Fairy Qingyan,” Zhou Haili smiled. “The novel describes her as dignified, beautiful, unblemished, and a peerless talent. So Director Qian was breaking his head, trying to find an actor for that role.”
“Didn’t the media say that the actor was cast, recently?” Director Xu remembered that some time ago, the actors being cast for ‘Tán Hǎixiān jì‘ was all over the news. Although Fairy Qingyan was not the protagonist, she was a very important role. How could that role have not been cast?
“How much Old Qian nitpicks, even you are aware,” Zhou Haili sighed helplessly. “I think Ning Xi’s figure and looks are fit for that role. Even if it isn’t, there’s no harm giving it a try.”
“You’re really generous,” Director Xu raised a brow, “willing to help out the newcomers and youngsters in this way.”
Hearing this, Zhou Haili smiled, “They and I have no conflict of interests. Everything is up to fate. Who has good fortune and who doesn’t, everything will be clear in the future. Who can predict the future clearly?”
Director Xu was clear in his heart. Zhou Haili was no philanthropist who pitied others. Her willing to cooperate with Ning Xi was not as simple as she said on the surface.
But he wasn’t very interested in the reason behind her interest. Everyone in this circle understood that curiosity would kill the cat.
When the shoot ended that afternoon, Zhou Haili’s agent found Zhang Qingyun and informed him about the new role. Zhang Qingyun was first stunned, then pleasantly surprised that Zhou Haili would actually help them. It was Ning Xi’s good luck that she received such an excellent opportunity.
Qian Cong Hai was too high up above. Newcomers such as Ning Xi would certainly not have the opportunity to audition before him. That Zhou Haili could make use of her friendship with Qian Cong Hai and could take Ning Xi along to audition was in itself a rare opportunity.
He informed Ning Xi about this news and brought her along to thank Zhou Haili.
“I just think that Ning Xi’s appearance was just like the description given in the novel. Moreover, her acting is not bad. This is why I dare to open my mouth to Old Qian about her.” Zhou Haili was sitting in her lounge. Seeing the pair come in, she told the assistant to bring them tea. She smiled softly, “If Ning Xi couldn’t act well, even if her looks were like a fairy’s, I wouldn’t have suggested this.”
“In any case, it was only with your help, Ms Zhou, that I got a chance to audition,” Ning Xi stood up and thanked Zhou Haili respectfully. “Thank you very much.”
“You don’t have to be so polite. The earlier I can find an actor for my friend, the earlier the crew can start shooting.” Zhou Haili opened the box of cigarettes on the table. She slid out a cigarette and very elegantly placed it on her lips. “I took a look at the shooting schedule. You don’t have to come to the sets tomorrow. Go to Old Qian and try out for the role.”
Although she was over forty years old, the way she was smoking was so charming and elegant.
Ning Xi had seen many people smoking, but not many could smoke as beautifully as Zhou Haili. When Zhou Haili looked at the younger actor, she looked as if she were in a daze.
It was said that time could take away a person’s outer beauty, but the inner charm could never be taken away. Ning Xi completely agreed with this sentence. As she looked at Zhou Haili, she felt that this woman was so glamorous.
“Cough, cough,” Zhang Qingyun saw the way Ning Xi looked at the older woman and coughed twice to remind her to be more polite.
Ning Xi hurriedly looked down, bowing her head to take a sip of the tea to cover up her fangirl eyes.
Zhou Haili had mixed in the entertainment industry for more than twenty years; how could she not understand what the young girl was thinking? She smiled, apparently delighted by the appreciation in Ning Xi’s eyes. The one point of goodwill she had towards her increased to a third.
Once she sent away the two of them, Zhou Haili told her agent hoarsely, “I can probably understand why that person made me take care of Ning Xi.”
The agent bent down and put all the cups on to a tray, “It’s normal for a big man like him to take a fancy to such a young and pretty girl.”
“It’s not the same,” Zhou Haili said in a low voice, looking at her agent as if he was stupid, “In this circle, the most indispensable is a young and pretty girl.”
The agent lifted the tray from the table and walked around Zhou Haili, saying, “I didn’t see anything special about her.”
“Therefore you don’t know women,” Zhou Haili narrowed her eyes and said lazily, “For a long time, I haven’t seen such a pair of eyes.”
The agent only remembered Ning Xi bowing down and smiling, he had no other impression of her.
He scratched his head. Maybe he really didn’t know women. No wonder his wife always scolded him for not being more romantic.
That night, Ning Xi had a dream. When she woke up, she forgot what the dream was about, but she couldn’t sleep anymore.
She picked up the novel from which ‘Tán Hǎixiān jì‘ was adapted. Looking at the clock on the stand, she saw it was still 5.30 in the morning. Feeling bored, she opened her phone and logged in to Weibo. Her most recent post was two days ago.
Sending a message to a fan, she put down the phone, got off the bed with great reluctance, and went to the bathroom.
The sound of water gushing from the tap was exceptionally loud in the quiet morning. Ning Xi smiled at herself in the mirror and rubbed the mirror which was covered with vapour.
As the water dripped from the tap, Ning Xi yawned and walked out of the bathroom. She put on the lights in her room and suddenly, the house was bright as day.
She boiled lean meat porridge for herself and boiled two white eggs. After eating, she put on her clothes and her makeup. She made a sign of cheering herself up in the mirror.
Zhang Qingyun and Ning Xi picked up Zhou Haili, and along with her, went to meet Qian Cong Hai.
Maybe because she was going to audition, there were many people other than Qian Cong Hai in the office include makeup artists, costume designers, hairstylists, and other creative staff. One could see that Qian Cong Hai really valued this role.
Greeting each other, Qian Cong Hai didn’t delay and said directly to Ning Xi, “Yesterday, Haili sent your photos to me. Your looks indeed suit this role, but it’s not enough just to have good looks.” He pointed to the makeup artist and the others behind him. “You go get dressed before you audition for the role.”
Ning Xi nodded and followed the staff into the lounge to get her makeup done and wear the costume.
The costume picked for her was a pale, wide-sleeved robe. She didn’t know what the robe was made of but one felt very elegant wearing it and didn’t feel like it was cheap or fake.
Her hairstyle was done up in a bun like fairies in ancient paintings. The style of her clothing was also similar to them.
The book described the Fairy Qingyan saying that she had skin white as snow, eyebrows which were black and striking, hair such as clouds and eyes like stars. One could notice that in the author’s imagination, she was extremely beautiful, according to the way people usually imagined fairies.
Ning Xi felt her eyebrows becoming cold; she thought that this makeup artist was clearly an expert drawing golden flowers on her eyebrow.
“Alright, done.” After tossing her about for an hour or two, the makeup artist finally stopped. “It’s finished.”
Ning Xi opened her eyes and slowly stood up. She smiled and thanked all the creative staff there and walked to the office in her costume.
Inside the office, Qian Cong Hai was chatting with Zhou Haili. But the moment the door opened, the words he was speaking came to an abrupt halt.