The weather had been fine these days and the sky in this small town was as beautiful as an oil painting. It was pure blue during the day but was smudged orange and pink in the afterglow of the sunset in the evening.
In a dilapidated rental building on the edge of a certain side street, Xue Xiao was leaning against a window on the fifth floor. He held a phone in his hanging hand and stared at the beautiful sunset in a daze.
He hadn’t received a job in almost a month.
During this period of time, he had contacted the guild agent Sister Wang several times on WeChat and through phone calls. There were either no replies or only a perfunctory response. This was completely different from her attitude from more than a month ago.
His phone vibrated. The one who sent a voice message on WeChat was Brother Liu, the head of the group extras.
“Hey, let me tell you straight. The person who spoke was the big leader of the Actor’s Guild. This person said he wants to block you and it is useless for you to find anyone. I can’t help you!”
“It is strange. Fan Xue might be popular recently but his status isn’t big enough to make the big leader of the guild obedient… My guess is that there must be a big shot behind him supporting him. Maybe it is a wealthy backer or something.”
“Xiao Xue, I think you should go to apologize to Fan Xue and make amends. The crew hasn’t left yet. Hurry over while there is still time. How can saving face be important compared to your future?”
“Look, you’ve finally been admitted as a contracted actor. Are you just going to pack up and go home? What a pity!”
Xue Xiao gripped the phone and his brow furrowed.
After holding back for a long time, he managed to choke out a sentence, “Let me apologize to him for what? Acting better than him? Or because the director deliberately used me to stimulate him?”
Brother Liu, the leader of the group, obviously choked up and his tone became heavy.
“Why are you so stubborn? Don’t care about what it is for. Now he is looking at you unfavorably and wants to mess with you. You can’t do anything to him so what can you do if you don’t go and make amends?”
“Xiao Xue, society is like this. Sometimes it isn’t your fault but you can only admit it…” (TL: This isn’t a mix-up with his name. It is the Xiao=Little, so basically Little Xue)
Xue Xiao put down the phone.
It didn’t matter if he was being stubborn or single-minded. He wasn’t willing to apologize to Fan Xue for what happened a month ago no matter what.
Xue Xiao turned around.
This small room that was around 20 square meters was rented jointly by him and others until the end of the year.
On the desk, a diary was spread out and a vintage green fountain pen lay in the middle.
There were four or five books piled up on a corner of the table. They were the ones he planned to read in the near future. There were also more books he had already read that were stuffed into the closet. He didn’t have many clothes anyway. The empty closet was just right for a bookcase.
There was a thin stack of scripts lying on the bed. They were the only ‘achievements’ that he gained after he changed from an ordinary group extra to a contracted actor and was finally able to stably receive character roles with lines. He had already read them over and over several times.
Xue Xiao walked to the bed, threw himself down and turned over, lying on his back.
After picking up the scripts and looking at them again, he closed his eyes.
He really wanted to act.
A few months ago, there were still many people who thought he could be popular. It was because his first role after being a contracted actor went out of the circle.
A gif spread all over the Internet and the related entry even climbed to the end of the hot search list.
Xue Xiao hadn’t expected to become popular with that single shot, but he had to admit that the days when he had more acting jobs were very happy.
They were fulfilling and hopeful.
Sister Wang, the agent of the guild, said with a smile that perhaps an entertainment company would come to sign him soon. It sounded like a joke, but at that time, Sister Wang’s attitude toward him was indeed much warmer than when they first met.
So Xue Xiao secretly thought, ‘Perhaps I really can go further?’
He hadn’t expected to become a big star all of a sudden.
He just hoped that he could take on more roles, act in more scenes and have just one more like or one more scene…
Xue Xiao had a desire for acting in his heart.
However, in the four months that he was secretly looking forward to it, the only two companies that contacted him were companies who created Internet celebrities.
Both of them used bold words and vowed to make him the most popular goods streamer on the Internet. They also told him how much more money he could earn by live streaming goods than he was now…
Xue Xiao had hung up the phone without hesitation.
He wasn’t disappointed. After all, it was just a little dream.
An effective shot could bring him more character roles. Xue Xiao believed that as long as he acted well, the next opportunity would definitely be waiting for him in the future.
…He never expected to run into the crew of ‘There Are Dragons’ and to meet Fan Xue… and Director Yu.
Xue Xiao closed his eyes for a while before opening them again.
Don’t think about it. In any case, it was impossible for him to please Fan Xue.
Xue Xiao admitted that he wasn’t a person who wanted to save face, but his dignity couldn’t be trampled on in this type of place.
As for what to do next… he would think slowly and think well.
Xue Xiao picked up his phone, opened the video website app, found a movie starring Shen Tingyan and clicked to play.
A handsome man with a stern expression appeared on the screen. Miraculously, the waves in Xue Xiao’s heart were quickly smoothed out.
The sun gradually sank into the horizon and night fell.
The street lights outside the window turned on and the restaurants on the street ushered in the noisiest time.
At around 8 o’clock, Zhang Chengyu called.
“Xiao Xiao, I just got off work. Have you eaten?”
“No.” Xue Xiao had just finished watching the movie. He rolled over and got up. “Master, you got off work very early today.”
“Yes, the crew was efficient today.” Zhang Chengyu laughed twice before saying, “I’ll be back in around half an hour on the electric scooter to eat together.”
Zhang Chengyu was 45 years old this year and had been at Nanhe Film and Television City for over eight years. He was a contracted actor.
He lived upstairs of Xue Xiao and the two of them saw each other a lot in the beginning. They hit it off and quickly became acquainted.
Zhang Chengyu might be a background actor but he had been in the movie and television city for many years and had practiced sophisticated acting skills. Xue Xiao recognized him as a master and the relationship between master and apprentice was very good.
At 8:30, Zhang Chengyu’s electric scooter stopped downstairs on time.
Xue Xiao ran downstairs.
Zhang Chengyu was wearing the black t-shirt and jeans from when he left in the morning. His short hair was a bit messy because he wore a wig during the day. He hadn’t removed his makeup yet and his complexion was darker than usual. There was a special effects scar on his eyebrows.
Xue Xiao glanced at it twice before saying enviously, “I really want to act as a mountain bandit.”
Zhang Chengyu laughed loudly. “If you are a mountain bandit with that fine skin and tender appearance, are you robbing others or are others coming to rob you?”
Xue Xiao was 24 years old and he looked as young as a high school student. There was no sense of violation if he wore a high school uniform.
His appearance seemed a bit ordinary at first glance—of course, it was ordinary among celebrities, not ordinary among passersby. However, those who knew him agreed that Xue Xiao was the type who looked better and better the more a person looked at him. He looked more beautiful and cuter.
His face seemed to have a bit of baby fat but he wasn’t fat by any means. He was even very photogenic.
The shape of the eyes was inclined toward almond eyes and the lines were delicate and soft without losing their heroic spirit. This contradictory temperament was perfectly integrated in these clear eyes.
A brother once joked that it was fortunate that Xue Xiao wasn’t a liar. Otherwise, once these eyes looked at them, they would have no idea and would be cheated completely without leaving even a pair of underwear remaining. They would be willing and firmly believe that this was an angel!
Xue Xiao’s nose was also good-looking. It was straight and the tip of his nose was slightly upturned.
His lips were naturally red. He had creamy white skin, red lips and white teeth, so he wasn’t the handsome type.
With this appearance, anyone who saw him would want to rob him. However, this little guy still wanted to rob others.
Zhang Chengyu wanted to laugh when he heard it.
Xue Xiao’s expression was dark. Then he looked again at the special effects scar on Zhang Chengyu’s eyebrow and muttered, “…In any case, I want to try it.”
Zhang Chengyu said with a smile, “What role don’t you want to try? You want to try a butcher, murderer, beggar and even female roles.”
Xue Xiao pursed his lips and smiled, not denying it.
Zhang Chengyu parked his electric scooter and said, “Come on. I just got paid my salary today. What do you want to eat? Master will treat you.”
Xue Xiao barely had any work this month and the salary… it could basically be ignored.
“Eat whatever you want. I’m not very hungry.” Xue Xiao wasn’t polite and his eyes swept over the street to find some restaurants they were used to eating at. “Go to eat chicken pot, Master?”
The wind blew on the May night. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was a very comfortable temperature.
The flowers and plants in the green area of the street were growing in full bloom and the wind carried the fragrance of flowers and grass.
Xue Xiao took a deep breath. The depression that he had felt the entire day seemed to be washed away with this deep breath.
The chicken pot restaurant was diagonally opposite them. As the two of them were walking, Zhang Chengyu asked with concern, “How is it? Is there still no news from Sister Wang and Brother Liu?”
Xue Xiao nodded silently.
Zhang Chengyu frowned.
Sister Wang and Brother Liu were the guild agent and the group leader.
There was more than one guild agent and group leader in the entire Nanhe Film and Television City’s guild for extras but since he couldn’t get through to the two of them, it meant finding other agents and group leaders was meaningless.
Xue Xiao was really banned.
It sounded a bit ridiculous to use ‘banned’ for a small background actor but such an outrageous thing happened.
It was just because the director of ‘There Are Dragons’ couldn’t teach Fan Xue, the lead actor, so he roared in a fit of anger, “If you can’t act well again, take off your costume and change it with Xiao Xue.”
This matter was only heard about after Xue Xiao left the crew.
Zhang Chengyu vaguely remembered that Xue Xiao was very excited when he first received the job for the crew of ‘There Are Dragons.’
His role this time had a name and many lines. He should be able to appear in three or four episodes.
Director Yu and Xue Xiao got along quite well. He gave a few words of advice to Xue Xiao on the set which benefited Xue Xiao a lot. He also asked the assistant for Xue Xiao’s contact information, saying that there would be roles for him in the future.
As a result, one sentence in the end was used to provoke the lead actor and directly sent Xue Xiao to hell.
…Zhang Chengyu actually didn’t believe that Director Yu’s angry words were said on impulse without thinking.
People who had been in the entertainment industry for a long time had numerous schemes. Zhang Chengyu didn’t believe that Director Yu was so brainless and he didn’t believe that Director Yu didn’t know what would happen to Xue Xiao after he said this.
After all, Fan Xue was obviously narrow-minded.
Director Yu did appreciate Xue Xiao but that was it.
For that director, filming the scene in the moment was definitely the most important thing.
As for whether this would bury the future of a potential young actor because of it… there was more than one person who was buried in the entertainment industry.
Thinking of this, Zhang Chengyu sighed and asked, “Then what are you going to do?”
Xue Xiao opened his mouth but before he could answer, he suddenly stopped and stared at the opposite side of the street.
Zhang Chengyu looked up. It was a green light and he didn’t understand why Xue Xiao wasn’t moving.
He was stunned when he followed Xue Xiao’s gaze.
In a restaurant across the street, two people were sitting by the window. One of them was wearing a cap and looked somewhat familiar.
Taking a closer look… wasn’t this the popular young actor, Fan Xue?
Zhang Chengyu was stunned.
Why did Fan Xue come to eat here? The hotel that their crew booked wasn’t near here…
Something suddenly came to mind and Zhang Chengyu’s voice sank. “Did he do it on purpose?”
The moment these words came out, Fan Xue in the distant restaurant seemed to feel their gaze and turned his head.
This person had a well-defined face that was the most popular among male stars in the entertainment industry these days.
He saw Xue Xiao and sneered. He cast a meaningful gaze over before turning his head leisurely.
—This guy really came here on purpose!
Maybe he wanted to provoke Xue Xiao or perhaps he wanted to hint at Xue Xiao to apologize and his grudge would be written off.
But no matter what it was, this guy wanted to trample Xue Xiao’s face under his feet and crush it fiercely.
Zhang Chengyu scolded him. “He doesn’t dare to be angry with the dirty so he came to find fault with you. This bastard has no courage and is really f*king idle!”
After he finished scolding, he took a breath and gritted his teeth. “I heard that he seems to be going to participate in Guantian’s ‘Studio Superstar’ show. This show is said to focus on ‘starting from zero’ and is focused on acting training and competition. It is aimed at amateurs, extras and background actors. As a young artist who has debuted, Fan Xue is probably the most famous one among all the contestants. He might be the one who is supported by the show’s staff.”
The ‘starting from zero’ referred to the identity of starting from scratch.
This concept was very subtle.
The identity of amateur actors was definitely ‘starting from zero.’ Young artists who had officially signed with an agency and played supporting roles in major film and television works could naturally say that they hoped the audience would forget their existing identity labels and let them start from scratch.
OF course, for the former, it was already good to have such an opportunity and it was impossible to care about these careful considerations.
Three months ago, many extras and background actors in the Nanhe Film and Television City submitted electronic resumes, hoping to have an opportunity to get into contact with a bigger stage.
Unfortunately, in recent times, many people had received rejection letters from the show. Zhang Chengyu was no exception and Xue Xiao was probably the same.
Zhang Chengyu paused and said in a dejected manner, “Xiao Xiao, if Fan Xue becomes popular from this then you might really…”
This was a reality they had to face.
Xue Xiao listened to Zhang Chengyu’s words and various lights reflected on his face.
He suddenly decided something and said in a clear voice, “Then I can always gain a firm foothold on another road before he becomes more popular, right?”
Zhang Chengyu was stunned. “You mean…”
Xue Xiao smiled. “He can’t let the person supporting him behind the scenes go to the leaders of the other two film and television cities because of me, right?”
Xue Xiao suddenly thought about it.
What troubled him for the past month was that he didn’t know what Sister Wang meant.
Today, Brother Liu explained it to him and Xue Xiao understood.
He wouldn’t be able to mix in with the Nanhe Film and Television City as long as Fan Xue wasn’t comfortable with him.
OF course, he couldn’t bear to leave this place where his dream started or his many brothers here, but for now, he might be able to continue acting if he changed the film and television city.
“The contracted actor certificates of Nanhe Film and Television City and the other two film and television cities are interchangeable. I can go directly to those two places with the identity of a contracted actor to receive jobs. What is the big deal? I will just pack up and leave tomorrow. It will take a month to record Studio Superstar. Even if Fan Xue becomes popular, it will take some time—”
The words sounded naive but Xue Xiao wasn’t a person to stop in place all day and lament. Even if the possibility was weak, he had to break through.
Zhang Chengyu watched Xue Xiao sweep away the haze hanging over him for over a month. His eyes lit up with a determined light and he listened in shock.
Xue Xiao would act once he said something. He wanted to immediately turn around and go back to his rental room to pack him. Suddenly, his phone vibrated and the screen lit up.
He looked down and froze.
Zhang Chengyu asked cautiously, “……? What is it? What is the message?”
Xue Xiao raised his head sharply.
His creamy white cheeks were stained red with excitement and he was particularly eye-catching.
He breathed heavily. “…Master, I really have to pack my bags!”
“……” Zhang Chengyu wiped at his face. “Eh, don’t be in such a hurry. Go back and order takeout. Master will help you—”
Xue Xiao quickly shook his head. “No, it isn’t going to the other two film and television cities!”
“Master, I passed the screening of the show Studio Superstar!”
Under Zhang Chengyu’s shocked eyes and under the beautiful night and brilliant lights, the young man said excitedly, “They just sent me an email. I am going to the competition!”