Seeing that someone else had entered the washroom, Xiaoxiao hurriedly said to the round-faced girl, "Ye Zi, I shall leave first. Hurry and stop hesitating. Think about your family!" With that, Xiaoxiao then left with her head bowed down; she didn't even get a good look at Sheng Jiaoyang.
Meanwhile, the round-faced girl stood there, looking to be at her wits' end. She watched on as Sheng Jiaoyang walked towards the sink to wash her hands. Biting her lower lips, the round-faced girl softly called out, "Jiaojiao." In the round-faced girl's heart, she thought that Jiaojiao surely wouldn’t remember her as it had been two weeks since she had played a walk-on role in 'Empress'. How would Jiaojiao remember me?
"Was that your manager?"
"No, she's not. How would someone like me have a manager? No company or studio would sign someone like me. Xiaoxiao is my friend, we met through playing walk-on roles. But…" the round-faced girl lowered her head, "She's no longer playing walk-on roles."
Sheng Jiaoyang heard ‘someone like me’ successively twice. This means the girl has low self-esteem and perhaps faced many setbacks in life.
"Why are you still trying?"
The girl laughed bitterly, "Perhaps going to a restaurant and working as a waitress would prove to be more stable than what I am doing now, but I have always dreamt of being an actress ever since childhood. I am still young and I don't want to give up. I am happy even if I am just playing the role of a maidservant."
"Have you gone to look for an artist management company?"
"Yeah, Xiaoxiao recommended me to her company but they felt that I have never received professional training and neither do I have the academic background nor looks. Also, I am too petite, they rejected me and said someone like me is doomed to play walk-on roles for life."
Sheng Jiaoyang pulled out a piece of paper towel from the paper tube on the washstand to wipe her hands. After drying her hands thoroughly, she lifted her head, looked at the reflection of the nervous girl and asked the last question. "What is your name?"
"Ye Zi, Zi as in the Chinese character for 'purple'."
Sheng Jiaoyang dug out a business card from her handbag and passed it to Ye Zi. "You can call this number." She then took a final glance at Ye Zi before she turned and walked out.
"This is—" Ye Zi was at a loss of words.
Sheng Jiaoyang didn't answer her and walked off.
Ye Zi lifted her hand to place the card at eye level. Inked in the middle of the card was: Xu Ping, Xu Jiaojiao's manager. The next line was Xu Ping's cell number. It was a very simple business card but Ye Zi felt as though she was holding onto a huge chunk of gold.
This is an opportunity!
She realised this almost as soon as she saw what was written on the business card.
To Sheng Jiaoyang, giving Ye Zi a business card was just extending courtesy, but it was all up to the latter to grab hold of this opportunity.
Sheng Jiaoyang thought Ye Zi's round chubby face was pleasing to the eye, so she decided to commit this sudden act of kindness to help the persistent dreamer realise her dream.
Entering the private room, Sheng Jiaoyang was almost overwhelmed by the deafening roars. Director Ma, who usually spoke gently, was screaming hysterically into the microphone. The stark contrast in his disposition had Sheng Jiaoyang thinking whether the Director Ma in front of her was an imposter.
"Come, let's sing together!" Sheng Jiaoyang had just entered the room when a microphone was shoved into her hands. Sheng Jiaoyang flashed a smile and silently placed the microphone back onto the table.
On this night, Sheng Jiaoyang had new enlightenment to the term ‘microphone hoarder’.
Director Ma's singing was appalling but he kept hoarding the microphone to the extent that no matter who picked the song, only his terrifying singing which could make the gods cry could be heard.
When she returned to the hotel to rest, she could still hear Director Ma's ghastly screams still ringing in her ears.
It was even… more horrifying than being present at the scene of a car crash.
It was already 11 PM where she was but on the other side of the video call, it was still day time.
Sheng Jiaoyang complained about Director Ma's singing before she felt a little tired from sitting up and lied down. Looking at the increasingly pleasant male in the video call, she suddenly blurted, "Zhining, I have never heard you sing before. For the sake of my damaged ears, can't you sing me a song to cleanse them?"
Shen Zhining cocked an eyebrow slightly. "Since you have never heard me before, what makes you think I would sing any better than Director Ma?"
Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes curved into two crescent moons as she flattered, "My instincts tell me that you surely sing well."
"Come on, I want to hear you sing right now, " Sheng Jiaoyang said with coquetry.
She hardly ever acted this way and her soft, gentle and hopeful voice melted Shen Zhining's heart.
The phone went silent for a moment before the humming of a particular husky male bass voice sounded; it was an English song in adagio.
Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes shone brightly as she stared at her phone screen. My instincts are right after all.
Hearing his soothing serenade, drowsiness quickly hit Sheng Jiaoyang. Her eyelids drooped and she went into a slumber.
Before the song was over, Sheng Jiaoyang was in deep sleep.
There was no longer any singing coming from the phone but the voice call wasn't disconnected immediately. Shen Zhining listened to Sheng Jiaoyang's breathing sound for a few moments before he quietly hung up the call.
The next day, Sheng Jiaoyang returned to the film site with her energy fully recharged.
After close to two weeks of filming day and night, the majority of the indoor scenes and scenes in the Imperial Garden were done.
The highlight scene of the day was an outdoor scene. It was the Emperor's birthday and he brought Imperial Consort Wu and Mu Jinyu, who had just advanced the ranks to become Imperial Concubine Jin, to the hunting grounds for hunting. They were also accompanied by the other dignitaries.
Imperial Consort Wu was a general and could most definitely ride a horse.
However, Mu Jinyu was just a woman who was stuck in her boudoir prior to marriage and didn't know how to ride a horse. Hence, the Emperor rode with her on the same horse.
Wu Qinghe looked down upon weak and delicate women like Mu Jinyu, but the emperor liked them. She was indignant at this woman who could lie in the Emperor's arms. But she had already lost to Imperial Concubine Jin once and knew that she couldn't find trouble with the latter in front of the Emperor or they would drift further apart.
In order to attract the Emperor's attention, Wu Qinghe said that she would personally go hunt the most valuable game as a present for the former.
The Emperor agreed readily.
In fact, the Emperor had secretly sent his men out to ambush Wu Qinghe. He wanted them to make her fall off the horse and suffer an injury. Then, he could take this opportunity, and in the name of doting on Wu Qinghe, to take back her control over the imperial harem such that she became a mere figurehead.
Meanwhile, Wu Qinghe, who didn't know any of this, was riding towards the hunting woods in high spirits.
The horse riding shot was completed by the stuntwoman. Sheng Jiaoyang only had to ride on the prop horse to shoot the close-up shot.
However, there was a pretty funny sequence in this scene. Imperial Consort Wu fell off the horse and was injured. The Emperor, in order to show how much he doted Imperial Consort Wu, personally came over to carry her up the horse carriage. In the end, as Imperial Consort Wu was too tall in stature, the Emperor almost sprained his back when he carried her.
At the sight of Gu Zhou's expression, as he deliberately pretended that it was a very laborious chore, Sheng Jiaoyang laughed out loud.
"Cut!" Director Ma immediately halted the shoot.
"Director, it's my fault," Sheng Jiaoyang climbed down from Gu Zhou's arms and admitted her mistake.
"It's okay, it's so rare to see you commit a blooper," Director Ma waved her off.
It was a usual occurrence for the actors and actresses to burst into undue laughter during filming. As long as they weren't deliberately dragging the progress, everyone wouldn't mind.
During the second take, Sheng Jiaoyang burst out into laughter again.
Gu Zhou teased, "How many more times do you want me to carry you?"
"The bitter expression on your face is just too funny," Sheng Jiaoyang held out both her hands to her side.
Gu Zhou laughed in spite of himself.
"Okay, ready!" Director Ma shouted.
"Scene 103, take 3, action!" The clapboard sounded.
This time, Sheng Jiaoyang finally gained some immunity towards Gu Zhou's miserable expression. As soon as Gu Zhou carried her in his arms and put on his miserable expression, she acted as though she was elated but embarrassed at the same time before she shyly hid her head in Gu Zhou's embrace.
On the other hand, Gu Zhou appeared as though he was having much difficulty and carried her up the horse carriage. After the palace maids drew the curtains, the scene was over.
The production team originally planned to shoot the other outdoor scenes in the afternoon, but during the halftime break, the weather changed all of a sudden and it started to rain. Hence, everyone moved into the indoor filming site and brought forward the scenes that were supposed to be shot much later.
Imperial Consort Wu poisoned Mu Jinyu, who had just become Consort Jin, and was found out. In the end, the Emperor sentenced her guilty of poisoning an imperial heir and banished her to the Cold Palace. Mu Jinyu arrived at the Cold Palace with the imperial decree where the Emperor declared her son as the Crown Prince. Wu Qinghe went hysteric and wanted to jump at Mu Jinyu but the latter ordered the servants to suppress Wu Qinghe and gave Wu Qinghe a tight slap in return for the slap Wu Qinghe had given her when she was once powerless.
Mu Jinyu sighed at the sight of the once extremely arrogant Imperial Consort Wu now kneeling on the floor with her hair all messed up and left her last words before leaving the Cold Palace, "You are what you are today because His Majesty has never loved you."
Wu Qinghe knelt on the floor for a very long time until her maidservant-in-waiting cried and begged her to get up. Only then did Wu Qinghe slowly stand up with the help of her maidservant but her face was void of expressions.
"Your Highness, please don't scare this servant," the maidservant was shocked.
Wu Qinghe suddenly pushed the maidservant aside and ordered, "Prepare for this Imperial Consort writing brushes, ink sticks, paper and inkstones."
The maidservant fell on her knees. "Your Highness, now that we are here, there won't be any of those."
Wu Qinghe froze for a split second before she suddenly tore off a piece of cloth from her dress hem, bit her finger and wrote on the cloth.
Finally, with a pale expression, she handed the piece of cloth to the maidservant and said, "By whatever means, you must hand this into the hands of His Majesty."
"Your Highness…" the maidservant softly called out with tears in her eyes before she retreated out of the room.
Wu Qinghe continued staring in the direction of the gates, until…
Sheng Jiaoyang closed her eyes and took in a deep breath to calm her emotions.
"Jiaojiao, you alright?" Zeng Huan ran over in a hurry.
"I'm fine," Sheng Jiaoyang waved a hand and walked to the monitor to see the replay with the director.
Reviewing the scene where she bit her finger to write, Sheng Jiaoyang laughed and said, "Without any post-production, looking at that scene is like watching a comedy."
"Filming is always done like this. Alright, this scene is completed," Director Ma declared.
Just when Sheng Jiaoyang was about to walk away, she heard Director Ma asking, "How's the practice for your crying scene coming along?"
Stunned, Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at Director Ma. She asked tentatively, "What if I still can't cry?"
"Crying is a fundamental skill, why are you unable to?" Director Ma frowned, his expression held streaks of helplessness within.
The passing by Liu Jinye said casually, "Why would a winner in life know how to cry?"
"…" Director Ma was speechless.
"…" Sheng Jiaoyang had no reply.
Director Ma cleared his throat and said solemnly, "The scene we are shooting next is the night scene where Imperial Consort Wu is seeing the Emperor for the last time. I don't care what method you use but you have to cry!"
Sheng Jiaoyang turned and gestured to Zeng Huan, "A'Huan, quickly get me an onion."
"…" Director Ma had nothing to say.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Cosy | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace