Chapter 267 - Rules

"We will start shooting after everyone takes a break. Make-up artist, touch up Mu Jinyu's face with a palm print, we will reshoot the slapping scene."

After retaking the slapping scene, everyone then reshot the rest of the scene. The maidservant beside Mu Jinyu was dragged down while Mu Jinyu held in a pained expression. After all, the maidservant served her for quite some time.

In the following scene, the emperor consoled Mu Jinyu and she started to realise her circumstances where Imperial Consort Wu was the most powerful figure in the imperial harem and her perilous situation after becoming the thorn in the latter's eyes.

Sheng Jiaoyang was walking towards the female washroom when she heard the faint conversation happening behind the doors.

"During the previous press promotion, wasn't the second female lead supposed to be Wei Xuan from your company? How did Xu Jiaojiao get the role in the end?"

"You have no idea, Xu Jiaojiao has a strong backing. Our President Li looks out for her often. She has the first dips to all the available resources."

"You must be kidding, right? Doesn't she only have a rich boyfriend? Or does she have something going on with your president too?"

"Having a rich boyfriend is good enough. She just has to hook a finger for resources to come to her."

"But I don't see her picking up any advertisement or endorsement deals. Or does she think that because she has a rich boyfriend, she doesn't need to worry about earning money anymore? How ridiculous. It's better to rely on oneself than to rely on others. If she's not using this chance to grab more endorsement deals, she's going to cry once they break up."

"Haha, perhaps she thinks that she has gotten him tied down and they won't break up!"

"Are both of you talking about me?" A third voice in the toilet almost sent the other two screaming.

That's why people always say, "Don't talk bad about others behind their backs because they can overhear you anytime."

The two engaged in a hearty conversation were the two consorts walking behind Sheng Jiaoyang in the scene where they were strolling through the Imperial Garden. Though these two characters didn't have many lines, as background characters, they had plenty of screen time.

"Haha, you must have heard it wrongly," one laughed sheepishly.

"Ah, I left my stuff in the garden, I shall make a move first," the other one was smarter and immediately excused herself.

Sheng Jiaoyang scrutinized the actress who portrayed Imperial Concubine Li. She looked young, around twenty years old and was relatively pretty with a good figure. She took a tiny step sideways and blocked the woman's way.

"I remembered there was a clause in the company's contract - artistes under the same company should settle their personal grudges internally and must appear to get along well in front of others. You seemed to have forgotten about this."

The actress was still wearing Imperial Concubine Li's makeup. Her expression changed again and again; she wanted to swallow her fury down but at the same time, wanted to vent it out immediately. For a split second, she had a twisted expression.

"Instead of gossiping about others behind their back, why not spend the effort on enhancing your acting skills instead. Otherwise, you will forever only be able to play minor characters like this," Sheng Jiaoyang didn't spare the actress another look and headed towards a cubicle.

"Was I wrong to say that? If not for your backing, would you be where you are today? Don't act all high and mighty, you are just a whore and yet expect people to recognise you as an honourable role model. If I have the resources you have, I wouldn't do worse than you!"

Sheng Jiaoyang turned and said nonchalantly, "Let's talk when you have the resources."

She then closed the door, blocking the actress' furious stares.

Tap tap tap. The footsteps faded into the distance as Sheng Jiaoyang heard the sound of the washroom door opening and closing once again.

Suddenly, she heard a flushing sound from the cubicle beside her.

There's someone else in the next cubicle.

When Sheng Jiaoyang came out to wash her hands, she saw a girl with a ponytail, dressed in casual wear, standing before the sink. Through the mirror, she took another glance at the girl and recognised the latter as the one portraying the palace maid who was flogged to death by the cudgel. There were many walk-ons palace maids but she only remembered this particular one because this palace maid was quick and clever to react in the face-slapping scene. Moreover, the girl delivered her lines well and her expressions were on point.

"I-I didn't eavesdrop on purpose." The girl was very nervous; she faced the mirror as though she was talking to herself and didn't dare to turn to face Sheng Jiaoyang.

"How long have you been in this industry?" Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at the girl.

The girl froze. She had the feeling that it was game over for her. She wants to check my background. Is she going to blacklist me after she finds out?

"F-five years," the girl replied weakly.

"Oh? But you look pretty young, are you twenty yet?"

"I am turning 24 this year."

Sheng Jiaoyang cocked an eyebrow. She was a little surprised. She looked at the girl's slightly round babyface. Hmm, a chubby babyface does appear young.

"Erm. I like Miss Jiaojiao a lot, I don't believe a single bit about what the other two said. So what if Miss Jiaojiao has a backing? If Miss Jiaojiao's acting is not up to par, Miss Jiaojiao's drama wouldn't have hit it off and everyone wouldn't like Miss Jiaojiao so much. Though Miss Jiaojiao doesn't have many works, Miss Jiaojiao's performance in each and every single one of them was brilliant. Also, I feel that Miss Jiaojiao doesn't have that many works because Miss Jiaojiao is selective. If there are many good roles, I believe Miss Jiaojiao will appear on screen more often," said the girl exceptionally seriously and didn't seem like she was bootlicking.

"Stop with the Miss Jiaojiao, it sounds awkward," Sheng Jiaoyang smiled.

"Then can I call you Jiaojiao?"

"Go ahead."

At this point, the girl has relaxed.

"Your performance was pretty good today." Sheng Jiaoyang complimented the girl just as she stepped out of the door after drying her hands.

The girl froze for a split second and jubilation could be seen all over her face. But then, she thought of something and the smile was wiped off her face. She watched as Sheng Jiaoyang left the washroom and sighed.

The shooting of ‘Empress’ was not like ‘Redeeming My IGD Boyfriend’ where there were many breaks in between, as the filming site incurred high rental costs and another day of shoot meant another day of money burnt. Moreover, one couldn't just extend the rental as they wished as it would be dependent on whether the place had been booked by others.

The filming went on regardless of day or night. During the first two days, everyone was still in high spirits and full of energy. However, by the latter filming phase, almost everyone was just bracing themselves to press on; they'd fall asleep as soon as they sat in a chair during break. Half a month in, even Sheng Jiaoyang could not take it any longer.

The director also didn't wish for his leading actors and actresses to suffer from burn out and wrapped up the filming early this one fine day. He then gathered the cast and crew for a hotpot and karaoke night to relax.

The main cast and director sat at one table while the others, including the assistants, sat around another table.

"Everyone has worked hard! A toast to us all!" Director Ma lifted his beer and stood up.

Everyone successively got up and raised their jugs.

"Alright, let's eat!" Following the director's declaration, everyone started eating.

As the leading actor and actress, Gu Zhou and Qu Wen were both seated beside the director. Meanwhile, Sheng Jiaoyang, by the request of Gu Zhou, sat on the other seat next to him.

As they cooked the meat slices in the hotpot, Gu Zhou took exceptional care for Sheng Jiaoyang and would fill up her plate from time to time with the communal chopsticks.

Because the atmosphere was good, everyone had fewer scruples about what they said. The assistant director even teased them, "I didn't expect that though our Emperor and Imperial Consort Wu are strange bedfellows in the drama but have such good ties behind the scenes. No wonder they don't find it awkward to film intimate scenes."

Though Qu Wen wore a smile on her face, she was displeased in her heart. On the topic of intimate scenes, the male lead has these scenes with both the female lead and second female lead. Though he had more intimate scenes with me and is just playing around with the second female lead in the drama, it was the complete opposite during the filming. Gu Zhou would always laugh when we filmed our intimate scenes but would complete the intimate scene with the second female lead in one take. He was exceptionally serious and engrossed, and the chemistry between him and Xu Jiaojiao was apparent to all.

"I have worked with Jiaojiao before. Also, we are under the same company and can be considered fellow senior and junior. In private, we are also very good friends," Gu Zhou explained.

"Haha, we all know both of you got acquainted over a painting," Director Ma laughed heartily.

Sheng Jiaoyang lifted her head to look at Director Ma. The director sure has much time on hand to even pay attention to such tabloid news.

"I didn't expect Director Ma to be so well informed," Gu Zhou shook his head and said.

"Everyone was shipping both of you so hard for a period of time; it was when the perfume advertisement had just come out. It felt like both of you have taken over my social media feed. At the time, many already hoped for the both of you to collaborate again and this time, their wish came true -but you two didn't get together in the drama. Haha. I can practically imagine the overspread discussion when everyone watches our drama 'Empress'."

Director Ma seemed to be very excited. He even felt a sense of epiphany in his heart. Entertainment International must have sent Xu Jiaojiao to play the second female lead because of this. When the drama debuts, they wouldn't even have to hire any Internet Water Army. The conversation topics surrounding the two were enough to bring up the popularity of the drama.

"Then I guess Jiaojiao would probably feel troubled," said Qu Wen all of a sudden.

"What do you mean?" Everyone looked towards Qu Wen.

Qu Wen smiled and replied, "Jiaojiao has an affectionate boyfriend. When I attended RICHAD fashion night, I saw Jiaojiao's boyfriend stuck to her as though they were carrots and peas! If everyone started shipping Jiaojiao and Gu Zhou, Jiaojiao, won't your boyfriend get jealous?"

Sheng Jioayang smiled as she thought of Shen Zhining, who had returned to Germany to settle some stuff, and said, "He knows about my job from the very start."

"I realise Jiaojiao is someone who has it all. She can paint, catwalk, act and can even manage her studies simultaneously. She even has a brilliant and dependable boyfriend. While others are still striving hard for their careers and love life, you already have it all! How envious and jealous we all are!" said Liu Qinye, the second male lead who was seated at the same table.

"What are you envious about? Don't you have a girlfriend too? Last time, she even came to visit you!" Director Ma teased.

"Haha, after the filming wraps up for this drama, I plan to propose to my girlfriend. I hope everyone can come to witness our marriage then," Liu Qinye said with a hearty laugh.

"Let us know when you have confirmed the date. If I have the time, I will surely attend," Gu Zhou didn't exactly confirm his attendance and even stated a precondition which was ‘if he had the time’. But usually, when he made such promises, he would most likely appear if nothing unexpected popped up.

Then, the topic slowly shifted towards the wedding without them realising it. They touched on subjects like how the ceremony would be held, the venue location etc.

After having their fill, everyone then headed towards the nearest KTV.

Sheng Jiaoyang made a trip to the washroom first but happened to see two people tugging and pulling each other in the washroom.

"Xiaoxiao, I don't want to go."

"Ye Zi, if you remain so conservative, you can only be a walk-on forever. Since Assistant Director Qian finds cute girls like you to be his cup of tea, why are you not taking this opportunity to ask for a role with more lines and screen time? That’s the only way to get more exposure!"

"I…" The girl with a round face was just about to reply but immediately swallowed her words when she saw Sheng Jiaoyang push the door and entered the washroom.

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xYuna's Thoughts

TL: Cosy | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace