Chapter 28 — New Project
When Chang Shi Gui mentioned Ning Xi’s name, Zhang Qingyun gave him a puzzled look. When he started talking about investing in the entertainment industry, he immediately understood that Mr Chang appreciating Ning Xi was not true and the real intention was this – talking to Li Jianhui about this big cake that was the entertainment industry.
In this country, among all the entertainment companies, Jiuji Entertainment could be considered to be one with the best reputation. Other than not being able to retain or nurture female artists, there was no other big drawback.
When the boss wanted to talk about a cooperation, he wasn’t one who could listen in. Zhang Qingyun was knowledgeable, so he retreated saying, “Mr Chang, boss, I have a few scripts to go through, I will not bother you.”
“Then off you go to work,” Li Jianhui’s mood was good, so he waved him away. At that time, when the secretary came in with the tea, Chang Shi Gui asked looking at Zhang Qingyun, “How many artists does Mr Zhang manage now?”
Li Jianhui’s head ran very quickly. He immediately replied, “Because the company values Ning Xi very much, Qingyun only manages her to stabilise and create her future development.”
The artist Chang Shi Gui appreciates, as he was her boss, he was certainly quite optimistic.
Zhang Qingyun was secretly vigilant in his mind. What did Mr Chang mean by that statement? Did he really have Ning Xi in his mind? However, he didn’t dare to really ask these words out loud. Seeing that the boss had continued to talk to Mr Chang about company affairs, he quickly went out of the VIP room.
Downstairs, he met Zhou Zhengchuan’s agent, Li Sheng outside the office.
“Qingyun,” Li Sheng called out to Zhang Qingyun and pointed upstairs. “I heard that a big person has come at this time.”
Zhang Qingyun opened the door to his office and welcomed Li Sheng inside to sit down. “Indeed, a big person has come. Chang’s person.”
“No wonder people from the secretary just gave me a call and asked me to wait a while before I went up,” Li Sheng said, stunned. “I heard someone went to speak to Mr Li yesterday afternoon.”
This sentence seemed to be random but Zhang Qingyun understood what Li Sheng meant. “I don’t know who is so concerned about our Ning Xi?”
“Who else can it be?” Li Sheng sat down and leaned against the sofa. “It’s Li Kun whose hands have reached so far.”
When Zhang Qingyun had decided to bring Ning Xi into the company, he let go of several artists that had been managing. Even Shi Pang used to be one of them. This time he ran to complain was about one of the few people who had been transferred out from Zhang Qingyun’s hands, he didn’t know where he heard the news about Ning Xi from.
“Han Chen?” Zhang Qingyun had managed Han Chen for only a few months. Because the latter worked privately too, the company’s attitude had always been lukewarm to him. After he transferred him to Liu Kun, he didn’t pay much attention to them. He didn’t expect such a news to come up now.
“Other than him, who else will do such a thing?” As a manager, Li Sheng didn’t really like such an over smart and inexperienced artist. “But you still have to be careful. I heard that the fiancee of Young Master Chen is quite a character. This kind of a wealthy woman is not someone who can be provoked.”
Zhang Qingyun knew that Li Sheng misunderstood the relationship between Ning Xi and Young Master Chen. He sighed helplessly. “A character like Ning Xi, where is she willing to provoke such people? Who knows what crazy thoughts these rich second-generation youngsters have? You say… by entangling with her… isn’t this forcing and provoking Ning Xi?”
Li Sheng suddenly understood. He laughed and said, “There’s no way, who asked for your Ning Xi to look so good?” He waved his hands, “You just have to be careful about that rich lady being indiscriminate, finding trouble for Ning Xi.”
“The capital is such a big place, even if they have money like the Wei family, they can’t control everything on this land.” Zhang Qingyun took out two cigarettes from his cigarette case and gave one to Li Sheng. “Ning Xi is not someone who can be easily bullied.”
Li Sheng took the cigarette from him. “When I see your family Ning Xi, I always think that she is very gentle.”
Hearing this, Zhang Qingyun smiled and didn’t speak. Where did Ning Xi have a gentle nature? There was always a knife hidden behind her smiles, she didn’t easily reveal her abilities. Without even knowing, many people had eaten a loss in her hands.
After spending a whole day on it, Ning Xi finally finished reading the script. This drama was just like how Zhang Qingyun described. It was a women’s drama, but it wasn’t the usual kind. In fact, underneath the surface, it spoke about the Confucian three obediences and four virtues when the woman in the drama was dead set on the man. Even if the man was useless, she offered her all to him. Ultimately, the woman died suffering in the drama, but the story truly described a woman’s style, character and heart.
This drama was not only about love and romance, but it tried to create vivid descriptions of three women of three different times and how their lives panned out.
At the end of the Ming Dynasty, during the Republic of China (1912-1949) and in the present country of China were the three timelines selected where three women with the same surname lived their lives.
Ning Xi liked this script very much, so after reading it, she immediately called Zhang Qingyun and said that she wanted to act in that drama.
Zhang Qingyun had some worried about the drama’s ratings but seeing that Ning Xi liked the script, he agreed to contact the director.
‘Three Lives with Rouge’ was a screenplay that Kong Yuheng had prepared a long time ago. She wanted to shoot a women’s drama that wasn’t just limited to love. She wanted to show the strength of a woman’s character. However, most investors saw that it wasn’t a dog-blood drama and were reluctant to invest. So, as a result, she could only pay out of her own pocket.
It was very difficult to sacrifice everything to gather money, but it was even more difficult to find a young, beautiful artist with good acting skills.
The heroine in the drama was like a triangle – all three characters had different life experiences and personalities. If the actress didn’t have enough acting skills, she couldn’t afford to shoot this drama.
She sent out the script to many actresses, but soon, calls started coming in rejecting her offer. The only one remaining would most likely also reject her offer, as she was quite popular. The trend was not favourable towards acting in a drama without love, without CP powder.
When Zhang Qingyun called her, she answered the call feeling extremely discouraged and depressed.
“What did you say?!”
“Okay, I’m free anytime!”
After hanging up, she instantly dialled the scriptwriter: “Lin Yan! One of the actresses we sent the script to has agreed!”
And it was the one who she felt was the least likely to agree!
This kind of surprise was the best news she had received in the last six months.
Outside a quiet cafe, Ning Xi pulled the cap on her head and pushed the door and walked in straight to table 9.
“I’m sorry, I’m late.” Seeing that both Kong Yuheng and Lin Yan had already come, she immediately apologised to them.
“No, it is us who are early.” Kong Yuheng looked at the watch – there was still ten minutes to their agreed time. “Miss Ning, please sit.”
“Thank you.” Ning Xi ordered a cup of coffee and then asked Kong Yuheng, “I’ve read through the script and I like it very much. I wonder when the shooting will begin?”
Afraid that Ning Xi would back off, Kong Yuheng quickly said, “You’re absolutely the only protagonist in this drama. So we can start shooting any time as long as you’re willing to play the role.”
“That’s good,” Ning Xi smiled, embarrassed. “I fought to act in this drama. If it’s not done properly and on time, I won’t know how to explain this to my agent.”
“We also understand,” Kong Yuheng also knew that a rising star such as Ning Xi acting in such a drama with not-very-good prospects was not appealing to the company. It would certainly not have been easy to convince her agent. Thinking so, she felt more grateful to Ning Xi in her heart. “The crew will definitely try to meet Miss Ning’s expectations.”
In reality, it wasn’t that Ning Xi was deliberately cheating the director, but in this circle, sometimes, one couldn’t behave too well or be too amiable to talk to. Because if she did, no one would take her seriously.
This director, Kong Yuheng, had made several good films and dramas in these past few years. Although her works weren’t wildly popular, it had good reviews and the quality was high. It was as if her luck wasn’t good and there were not many people willing to support her.
In fact, both the director and the artist needed someone to support them. If there was no one to support the director, during filming if someone made things difficult, the director could only hold back her dissatisfaction. If there was someone supporting the director, funds could be easily burned, so much so that even the producer had to be polite to him. People like Qian Cong Hai belonged to this category.
In Ning Xi’s view, the concept of the screenplay was very novel and conformed with her idea that women are becoming increasingly independent and self-reliant. Her intuition told her that once it was shot and well-publicised, the audience rating just might explode.
The three of them discussed the script for a while before mentioning the paycheck.
With Ning Xi’s current market price, the pay for a TV drama was no less than one hundred thousand. Moreover, this drama was about her alone. However, with the initial investment of ‘Three Lives with Rouge’, it was very difficult to offer that amount per episode unless they reduced the quality of the drama.
Finally, Ning Xi decided that along with the advance being paid, the rest of it could be paid to her after the shoot was done.
Not believing that Ning Xi was so amiable to speak to, the degree of affection Kong Yuheng held for her almost burst out. They exchanged phone numbers and usernames and went home to draw up the contract, unable to wait for the shoot the next day.
Ning Xi went back and discussed the method of payment with Zhang Qingyun. The agent didn’t quite understand why Ning Xi was so optimistic about this drama. “Fortunately, in some time, ‘Yunyue of Han Dynasty’ will be released. There is also no shortage of exposure for you right now, otherwise, I wouldn’t have supported your adventurous decision.”
“I know you are the best for me, Brother Zhang!” Ning Xi smiled at Zhang Qingyun, acting cute. “But you have to believe in my insight. The times have changed and our women’s tastes in drama have also changed.”
“Don’t act cute!” Zhang Qingyun said with distaste and turned away. “Kong Yuheng’s TV drama, although not very popular, but the reputation in the industry is quite good. You can improve your acting with her during the shoot.”
This was the main reason why he agreed to Ning Xi acting in this movie. Ning Xi looked so beautiful that it was easy for people to overlook her acting and treat her like a vase. If Ning Xi was out to just make money, she would be indifferent to being called a vase. But along with money, she wanted fame and a good reputation too, which meant she had to be something more than a vase.
Acting wasn’t something where one proclaimed one’s skills and others agreed to it. A thousand words weren’t as convincing as a good work done.
Kong Yuheng’s TV drama was a step in Ning Xi’s path that would prove her acting. If all went well, there was a possibility that the ratings would explode.
He still remembered how he felt when he first saw Ning Xi at the advertising studio. She was so beautiful, attracting and full of mystery, as if she had so many stories to tell.
In the second, he felt that this woman would become so popular, that she could conquer the entertainment world.