304 A Big Superstar

    The crew finished the outside shoot of an upcoming young adult comedy drama around late afternoon. The crew was busy collecting the props and equipment. The female main character, Xie Yiman, despite her young age of 18, was the biggest celebrity on set. With the accompaniment of her personal team, she changed out of her costume, redid her make-up, put on her sunglasses and readied to leave.

    "Yiman, there are reporters outside the set as well as some fans." Her manager asked, "Would you like to meet them?"

    "Sure." Xie Yiman smiled as she scratched her cheeks. "That sounds marvellous." Sometimes, fans and reporters were brought to hype up a scene, but this time, Xie Yiman knew these people were not hired extras for this was not a big event. The so-called on set pictures and fan pictures were handled and edited by the PR department. They had to fit the celebrity's brand and the public's requirement. Should they be sexy or cute, those were all rehearsed and decided at the company. Entertainment business was still a business. Xie Yiman knew these things but they were handled by her company and manager, she was only responsible to cooperate.

    Two years ago, she could not imagine enjoying treatment such as these. At the time, she was just a young actor without a claim to fame. Initially, she started as a child actor because her dad knew someone at the tv company. However, her company did not have much hope in her so her management was the most surprised at her current success. Her big break came from a movie that no one had much faith in. Overnight, she rose from a sparrow into a phoenix and the offers rolled in. Two years later, Xie Yiman stabilized her position as a famous and celebrated actor. With a healthy image, her future was bright.

    When Xie Yiman and her team left the studio, she saw the reporters and fans cordoned off by the security. The reporters' cameras were already flashing while the fans holding her name placards cheered, "Yiman, Yiman!""Yiman, we love your films!""Can you sign our placards?!"

    "Thank you so much for coming." Xie Yiman walked over to greet her fans and sign their posters. She was used to dealing with things like this. Internally, she was proud and happy. Her hard work, effort and luck pushed her to this state but this was, for her, only the start of her career. If there was no misstep, she would eventually reach greater heights!

    After greeting all her fans, Xie Yiman was escorted by the security back to her car. Even after the car drove away, the fans' passionate chants could still be heard. Sitting in the spacious backseat, Xie Yiman picked up a script to read. She had to attend an online interview later that night. The questions which the host would pose had already been decided between her management and the production company. How she was to answer was written in the script. After going through the script, Xie Yiman gave some opinions to her manager and wanted to edit some of the answers. After that was done, the manager brought up another issue. "I just got the latest update this afternoon, the condition to appear in the movie by Phecda is quite tyrannical."

    "What are the conditions?" Xie Yiman asked as she scratched at her cheeks. This was a movie sponsored by Phecda. It had a plot based on an actual mission led by Gu Jun's team. This was a perfect opportunity since Phecda was everything people would talk about nowadays. Furthermore, the movie would have the government's support behind it, which was rare in China's entertainment industry. Therefore, many actors vied for a spot. Xie Yiman would fight for the main role for the sake of her career.

    "You cannot take other movies while the shoot is ongoing." The manager explained, "And before the shoot, you have to receive a one-month long military training. We need to seriously consider this. I'm sure you can endure the training but this is about the other resources. During this period, you could have finished another 3 movies and that is not counting dramas and web series."

    "But... this is a movie by Phecda!" Xie Yiman hesitated, this was one of the rare moments she pushed against management, "It will definitely be popular, the same cannot be said for the rest. Furthermore, Phecda will need to produce more promotional media. If I can nab this role, they will be more inclined to sign me up for future roles." Entertainment, like fashion, had many styles that came and went. Perhaps in a few years, her star would dim so most companies squeezed everything out of their celebrities while they were still worth that price. However, Xie Yiman had another goal in mind. Like Chanel, she was going for longevity in her career.

    "I still think we should fight for the Phecda movie." Xie Yiman scratched harder but the itchiness did not seem to abate.

    "What's wrong with your face?" The manager asked nervously. She noticed that Xie Yiman had been scratching her face non stop until it had reddened. As a celebrity, the face was the most important asset. As an actor, Xie Yiman's acting was passable, but her forte was in youth movies and that depended a lot on her face. Her rise and fall would affect the livelihood of her whole team, as well as her management company, and the movie sponsors. Therefore, her team focused greatly on the maintenance of her face, there must not be any flaw. A minor allergy could be a career-ending tragedy. To add to the manager's worry, in the documents that Phecda sent to all management companies 2 days ago, they stressed the safety and health management of their artists.

    "It's just some itch." Xie Yiman frowned. "It feels like something is crawling under my skin."

    "We better head to the hospital then." The manager had the driver change the course. The interview could be postponed, it was not a live show anyway. The manager had Xie Yiman resist the urge, if her scratchings left behind scars, there would be hell to pay. For the initial half an hour, Xie Yiman tried her best to resist but the itchiness grew more serious... It felt like her whole face was burning up. There were ants crawling inside her every pore, munching on her nerves. Eventually she surrendered to the urge. "Ah..."

    "Stop that." Her manager hurried to interrupt. The assistant grabbed an ice pack for Xie Yiman to put on her face while the manager shouted. "Step on the oil!"

    Xie Yiman started to panic then. She still had the movie to finish, a character to fight for and shows to shoot. This was not the time to let people down. The suppressed itch made her roll about in the car seat, she wished desperately to scratch her face off...

    "Just one scratch, it'll be fine." She pulled off the ice pack and started to scratch with vehemence. At the same time, she noticed with confusion that both her manager and assistant had frozen in place. Neither of them came to stop her.

    "What's wrong..." Xie Yiman glanced at the rearview mirror. When she saw her own reflection, her mind blanked.


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