Shen Chuchu’s company was called Mei Jia Entertainment. Though it wasn’t the largest in the industry, it still had a good bit of prestige to its name. Shen Chuchu had at the very least heard of the company before. If she didn’t, she would never have joined them in the first place.
However, after signing in with the company, Shen Chuchu realized that there were more than a few problems with it. It wasn’t hard for her to understand why the company’s reputation was ambiguous.
At 9:30 am, she arrived at the company’s headquarters and hurried straight towards the elevators. Two people were quietly chatting there, but as soon as Shen Chuchu walked over, they grew silent and focused their attention on her.
Shen Chuchu recognised one of them as Li Yutao, who was the company’s popular idol. He was a trainee who debuted abroad and then signed with Mei Jia when he came back after two years. Not long after he signed, he released an EP* and one of his songs blew up, becoming one of the top ten in last year’s Golden Melody list. Though he could not be compared to the top trending artists, he was fairly accomplished in his own generation of singers. She also heard that he was going to venture into the film industry to develop his career, now that he had successfully made it as a singer.
*TL-note: EP referred to extended play which is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album.
Shen Chuchu bowed her head and said: “Hello, Lige.*”
*TL-note: The prefix -ge means older brother, and it applies to both family and someone older than you/someone you look up to. In this case, -ge is used as a form of respect.
Li Yutao was just about to respond when his manager Wan Shanshan cut him off: “The elevator is here, Yutao.”
Shen Chuchu did not even want to get into the same elevator as them in the first place. However when she saw Wan Shanshan’s detestable expression that seemed to say “why are you not coming in?”, Shen Chuchu could only walk inside with her head held down.
Finally, Shen Chuchu reached her floor. She walked out briskly without greeting the people behind her. Since it was clear that other people didn’t want to talk to her, she decided not to make any trouble for herself. The atmosphere in the elevator was quite strange, it felt like their gazes were blazing-hot lasers burning onto her back.
Once Shen Chuchu left, Li Yutao playfully said, “Is that the new person? Her looks aren’t bad at all. Is it really okay to treat new people like that, Shanjie*?”
*TL-note: The prefix -jie means older sister, and it applies to both family and someone older than you/someone you look up to. In this case, -jie is used as a form of respect (informally).
Wan Shanshan replied in a condescending tone: “Don’t you know she has already offended her manager? There is no need to pay attention to such a stupid person who has no background support. And so what if she is pretty, there’s no lack of pretty actresses in the entertainment circle. And Yutao, you must be careful. You’re rising fast, so you must not meddle or create trouble for yourself with any newcomers.”
Wan Shanshan said the exact same words every time he complimented a pretty girl, and Li Yutao was already tired of it. He waved his hand, “I know, I only complimented her. It’s not like I said anything else.”
Wan Shanshan’s face darkened at his words and with a cold reply she said, “Don’t forget how you became popular and who helped you!”
Wan Shanshan always spoke these words but Li Yutao was a man so when he heard these words, he felt somewhat upset. “You don’t need to remind me every time. If I really was ungrateful then I wouldn’t have……”
Li Yutao saw that the elevator was about to open so he did not continue. He glanced at Wan Shanshan, hmphed, and then walked out first.
Wan Shanshan was really angry at Li Yutao, and clenched her fists firmly.
Meanwhile, Shen Chuchu had already arrived at Manager Xin Ming’s office. She thought back to their disagreement previously, took a few deep breaths and knocked on the door.
Before Shen Chuchu could even think of how to approach her manager, he opened the door smiling and handed her a contract. “This is a jewellery line from the Han Group. They’ve chosen you as their brand ambassador, and the contract will be for one year.”
The Han Group? Shen Chuchu’s eyes widened when she heard the name. This company was extremely well known, and there were countless people who wanted a chance like this. She could not understand how a miracle such as this one had fallen on her head.
Shen Chuchu asked confusedly, “Mingge, why would their group ask me to be their ambassador?”
Xin Ming looked at Shen Chuchu and put on some airs: “Naturally, it was all thanks to me. After all, I was the one who signed you. Although you didn’t become popular after the two advertisements and refused to go to dinner with Executive Chen, I’m still looking out for you in regards to good opportunities. Can’t you see? I even set aside such a good opportunity like Han Group for you. When you make the big bucks later, you better not forget about me.”
Shen Chuchu frowned when she was reminded of the incident with Executive Chen. Although it was common practice in this social circle, however, she had her bottom line and absolutely would not cross it. Ever since she refused that time, it was clear that Xin Ming had already dropped her, so how did such a great advertisement land on her head?
When she thought back to the bargirl* incident and then looked at Xin Ming’s face, Shen Chuchu still found it hard to believe. She wanted to look over the contract because if there were any issues, it would turn out to be a nightmare rather than a miracle.
*TL-note: A bargirl is a woman who entertains and drinks with patrons at bars/social events/dinners. The exact nature of the entertainment can range from light conversation to sexual service which is common in Asia. In this case, it is referred to the dinner with Executive Chen.
Xin Ming saw that not only was Shen Chuchu suspicious, she also wasn’t taking him very seriously. He raised his voice slightly and said, “What, do you think I would lie to you? If that’s the case, you don’t need to take up this advertisement. I’ll go find someone else.”
Shen Chuchu roughly looked through the contract but did not see any issues. The Han Group was a big company, and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so she could not reach a conclusion easily. She replied, “How could that be? I’m just having a look.”
“It’s best that way, then.” With an ugly look, Xinming said, “Remember to sign your name on the contract.”
Without lifting the pen, Shen Chuchu carefully reread the contract again. When she saw the final amount, Shen Chuchu raised an eyebrow. No wonder it was a big company, the ambassador fee was even one million. The two advertisements she shot before was only thirty thousand yuan in total. However, when she saw that the company share was 9:1, Shen Chuchu frowned.
“Mingge, is this a mistake? I remember the initial contract I signed was 7:3? The previous two for the advertisements were also the same so why is Han Group different? Is this not in line with the initial contract that I signed?”
Shen Chuchu looked at Xin Ming with a serious face after she finished. Xin Ming’s face darkened, like the black heart on top of his head, when he heard what she said.
“You want to be on the 7:3 contract and still sign with Han Group? Keep dreaming! Have you ever thought about how much it costs the company to get this contract? If it weren’t for that, how could an unpopular actress like you possibly get it?” Xin Ming then looked at Shen Chuchu with a disdainful expression.
He never held much hope for such a good opportunity anyway so he had randomly just picked some people. He would have never thought this surprise would have landed on Shen Chuchu’s hands. Rumours say that it was due to the higher-ups in the company that they had picked her.
Since Shen Chuchu was not grateful or thankful and even questioned the contract, there was no need to pick her. The Han Group probably chose her due to her looks and the company had no shortage of good-looking artists. He himself had a handful underneath him so there was no need for it to be her. After all, they were all from the same company so he doubted anyone would say anything.
When Shen Chuchu heard those words, her heart sank. At the start when she signed with Xin Ming, it was he who painted an enticing image of the entertainment circle. They were on good terms before but due to the two mediocre advertisements and the incident with Executive Chen, everything had changed.
Shen Chuchu and Xinming stared at each other for a while, then she said: “The 7:3 share was what I signed with the company so when the company negotiates adverts it should be their responsibility. Isn’t it unreasonable for the company to just take the two shares without reason?”
Xin Ming had already decided to replace Shen Chuchu, so he tossed his copy of the contract onto the table and conveniently incited, “Shen Chuchu, are you questioning the company’s decision? If you don’t want it then get lost, there are plenty of people in the queue who will shoot Han Group’s advertisement.”
His intention was to encourage Shen Chuchu to give up voluntarily but he did get somewhat angry at her response.
He would be lying if he said he didn’t regret choosing such a blockhead like Shen Chuchu. It didn’t matter that she didn’t have the best looks in the industry, but it was crazy for her to refuse such a massive shortcut like this one. She could even ask around and learn that this didn’t just happen in their company, but in the entire entertainment industry, nearly everyone was cheated in their contracts. Did she really think that society would be an ivory tower*? Even if it was, the entertainment industry still wouldn’t be!
*TL-note: Google says that the term “ivory tower” means “a state of privileged seclusion or separation from the facts and practicalities of the real world.”
He was thankful that he had only signed Shen Chuchu for a year. Otherwise, she would be leeching off of the company’s resources without benefiting him at all.
Shen Chuchu’s family was not wealthy but she grew up quite comfortably with good grades and a pretty face. Never in her life had she been spoken to like this before. She could tolerate it no longer and with this added hatred, she stood up from her chair.
“What right do you have to swear at me? So be it, I will not stand these insults!” Shen Chuchu angrily yelled at Xin Ming.
If it were before, Shen Chuchu would still be afraid. Since her wallet would have been empty, she would’ve had to endure no matter what. At least with a 9:1 share, she would still receive a hundred thousand yuan which would be enough for her for a long period. But with the marriage system, she could earn ten thousand per day and earn it all back in ten days. It was not a big deal, she would just do a few more fortune-telling.
However, without such resources like the Han Group, it would be even harder for her to become well-known, but between success and dignity, she still chose the latter. After all, the whole point in life was to take a stand for yourself. So what if she couldn’t stay in the entertainment circle anymore, she would just go back to her hometown and open a small shop.
Without a hint of hesitation or another glance at Xinming, Shen Chuchu picked up her bag and walked away.
This was the second time she had a disagreement with her manager. The saying that the first meeting was as strangers and the second would be as a friend was after all for nought.