“Se Se, didn’t you always want to be an actress If we go to Shen Farms, who knows if they might take a fancy to you! You’re so pretty, a director will definitely take a liking to you.
Besides, I heard that ‘Operation Rescue’ is backed by both Jiang Hua Corporation and Tai Chang Company.
There have been some whispers going around that the investment both companies threw into this movie is quite a hefty amount, so the male lead they were able to get is the top movie actor, Liu Ye!”
Lu Bao Bao’s mind was frantically racing as she tried to come up with every possible way to entice her friend.
In an effort to win her over, she blurted out every rumor she had heard or discovered online over the previous few days.
“Come on, please; there’s nothing to do anyway.
Don’t tell me you’re going to just spend your time studying all day, every day,” Lu Bao Bao implored as she rolled her eyes.
Lu Bao Bao refused to believe Jiang Se had enough patience and forbearance to sit at her desk and study when a chance to become a star was so close.
She knew her friend.
Jiang Se had never performed well in any of her classes.
She used to just tune out the teacher’s lessons while daydreaming about the moment she would graduate high school and become a superstar.
However, unbeknownst to Lu Bao Bao, the Jiang Se of today was completely different.
Jiang Se was committed to doing well in the upcoming college exams and enrolling in a reputable university.
Thus, finding a way to pay for her tuition was her only goal right now.
She had studied a wide range of subjects when she was still Feng Nan and was adequately skilled in most of them.
Unfortunately, as the young Jiang Se, it was inappropriate for her to take out any of those skills, much less use them.
The original Jiang Se quite literally only had a pretty face and no other talent.
She did not even have any experience in acting.
Her thought process consisted of auditioning and then ‘making it big’—an unrealistic expectation for a naïve young girl to have.
Now that she was Jiang Se, those kinds of thoughts had never once crossed her mind.
She knew ‘making it big’ was impossible, but earning money was still possible.
It was summer vacation, a good opportunity to start looking for work.
“Please come with me; I’m begging you! Please!” Lu Bao Bao cajoled, once again grasping tightly to Jiang Se’s arm and swinging it to and fro.
“It’s going to be a big production, Se Se! There will be lots and lots of stars!”
Lu Bao Bao quickly took out her mobile phone and showed the screen to her friend, “Look at this list! Lu Bing Bing will be there, so will Zhao Ruo Yun, and there are probably many others.
Those two alone are the current hottest xiao hua dan1, not to mention that the male actor is Liu Ye.
It’s Liu Ye, Se Se! Oh, and the renowned Zhang Jing An is the director, too.
With that much star power, the movie is already considered to be a hit in popularity and hype alone.”
Lu Bao Bao’s eyes were nearly gleaming with excitement and anticipation as she prattled on: “Such a big crew, they will definitely need to hire some extras, right Maybe just by going there we could take a small role.
Even if we can’t join the crew, with luck we could ask for Movie King Liu Ye’s autograph.
Think of the looks on our classmate’s faces when they see us next time with his autograph.
At this time, Jiang Se’s attention was successfully captured when she heard the words ‘hire extras.’ “They’re going to hire extras”
“They will, for sure,” Lu Bao Bao said as she waved her phone in her direction.
“It’s such a big production and crew, they might need background people to act as some crowd or audience or whatnot.
If we can get in, we might be able to be in the same shot as an actress.
We could be on TV!”
Jiang Se had no interest in movie kings, movie queens, or other famous people, but she was very drawn to the idea of a salary.
“How much money does an extra like that earn” she asked.
“Uhh…” Lu Bao Bao was stumped by this question.
She had not done any research into information like this at all, nor had she ever tried to be an extra.
But she did not want to let Jiang Se down, especially when her friend finally showed some interest.
She put on a brave face and brazenly said, “A-about around a hundred yuan or so It’s, well, a big production, you know”
Lu Bao Bao’s answer did not sound very reliable, but Jiang Se thought it was worth a try to take a look, so she finally nodded her head and said, “All right then, we can go this Saturday.”
She squealed inwardly with delight when Jiang Se made her promise, then stopped bugging her friend and sat back in her chair.
In front of the class, the math teacher began writing down the number of days remaining until the college exams and the subjects that would be covered today before beginning her lecture.
Jiang Se became completely absorbed in the lessons.
Although she had always been a good student—as Feng Nan, she had good study habits, grades, and aptitude—it had been a while since she had last encountered these types of math problems.
In order to do well in the exams, she still had a lot of reviewing to do.
As the day wore on, Jiang Se quickly returned to the mindset of a student.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for her seatmate.
From the corner of her eye, Jiang Se spotted Lu Bao Bao’s dazed look.
It was plain to see that Lu Bao Bao’s thoughts were no longer here, her head was already in the clouds.
On Saturday morning, Jiang Se woke up early and was helping out Zhou Hui in the kitchen when Du Chang Qun trudged down from the stairs with a sullen face and then inexplicably threw a scathing look at Jiang Se.
The capital was home to a number of factories selling electronic goods, including the one Du Chang Qun was working for.
He had worked for the company for a considerable amount of time, making him a veteran in some ways, but throughout the years, his career had neither advanced nor regressed.
With such a large family to support, his meager monthly salary was barely enough to cover expenses.
Jiang Se was not his daughter, and her presence grated on his nerves, so oftentimes Du Chang Qun’s discontent and frustration were directed towards her.
That Saturday, Jiang Se volunteered to help her mother with breakfast.
Du Hong Hong and Du You, on the other hand, were allowed to sleep in, waking up only when they wanted to.
Zhou Hui quickly served the congee to the table.
She then took a smaller bowl, filled it with food, and walked into her mother-in-law’s room to assist her.
As per usual, Du Chang Qun grumpily sat at the table and began eating amidst angry snorts.
In the Du household, there were not many particularities or rules when it came to eating.
They never used service chopsticks or spoons, and everyone just grabbed from the serving plate with their chopsticks.
So, when Jiang Se saw Du Chang Qun use the same chopsticks he had just shoved into his mouth, she immediately lost her appetite.
The mood suddenly took a subtle dip when Du Chang Qun took a mouthful of food and glanced unhappily at his stepdaughter.
Jiang Se had bowed her head in order to reduce her presence, but a look of irritation and loathing still flashed across Du Chang Qun’s face.
He slammed his chopsticks on the side of the table and said, “You’re about to graduate high school soon, right I don’t think you need to take the college exams any more.
Once this school year is done, prepare yourself to enter the factory.
You’re not a kid anymore, you need to start earning.
At the factory you can get at least 1,000 yuan.
It would be a big help to the family.”
Jiang Se placed her chopsticks down and listened in silence to Du Chang Qun’s abrupt outburst.
“You’ve seen how difficult it has been lately.
Hong Hong is about to enter middle school, and her tuition fee and living expenses are quite high.
Since you’re an older sister, it’s only right that you support her studies,” Du Chang Qun continued his expression, progressively getting more excited.
He tapped his chopsticks again against the table before reaching out to wipe his mouth with his hand.
“I’ve already talked to our factory manager.
They are open to hiring female workers.”
Jiang Se still did not respond, and Du Chang Qun did not wait for her to react.
After finishing his breakfast, he got up, grabbed his bag from the table, and left the room.
Du Chang Qun had to report to work even on Saturdays.
At this point, Zhou Hui exited Grandma Du’s room holding an empty bowl; it was obvious that she had overheard what Du Chang Qun had said.
As soon as Jiang Se turned to face her, Zhou Hui said, “Your Uncle Du’s words make sense, given everything going on in the house.”
Jiang Se immediately cut her off with an indescribable look on her face and said, “If it were Hong Hong who was about to graduate, would you also stop her from continuing to study”
The question caught Zhou Hui off guard, but she just brushed her words off and tried to convince her, “You also know your grades aren’t that good…”
Jiang Se stood up from her chair and began cleaning up the table: “I’m full.
I’m going out to meet with a friend.”
While trying to come up with a few more words to say, she repeatedly opened her mouth.
Ultimately, though, Zhou Hui just stared at Jiang Se’s retreating back in defeat and sighed loudly into the empty room.
It took ten minutes to walk from the Du family’s house to the closest bus stop, and once she got there, she still had to wait for ‘her bus.’ One air conditioned bus drove by after another, and all Jiang Se could do was sweat in the sweltering heat.
Due to her limited financial resources, she had to wait for the non-air conditioned bus to come.
Passengers came and went, and finally, a rickety old bus arrived at the stop.
The majority of the seats with windows were empty, as not many people opted to take this type of bus, especially recently as the weather warmed up.
Jiang Se opened the window a crack and relished the slight breeze that came through the gap.
With her eyes closed, she mulled over everything she had experienced these past few days.
It was the first time in her entire twenty-four years of living that she understood what the word ‘poor’ really meant.
Lu Bao Bao’s house was four stops away from the Du family, and although they could not be considered ‘rich’ by any means, compared to the Du family’s circumstances, Lu Bao Bao lived a very comfortable and privileged life.
Jiang Se knocked on the door, and it only took a moment for Lu Bao Bao to open it.
It seemed she had been waiting there for a good while.
When Lu Bao Bao set eyes on Jiang Se, she immediately released a sigh of relief.
“Why did it take you so long” Lu Bao Bao complained under her breath as she pouted at Jiang Se.
“I almost thought you wouldn’t come!”
“Look!” she said, gesturing at the pen in her hand, “because you were late, my parents forced me to do some homework.”
Sweat trickled down Jiang Se’s flushed face.
She pursed her lips, unsure of how to explain herself, only to shrug and say, “Something happened at home,” in response.
I’ll be right back!”
Lu Bao Bao dashed back to her room to grab a small bag before yelling at her parents through the living room doorway, “Mom! Dad! I’m leaving now! My classmate is here, and we’re going to the library to study! I won’t be back for lunch, so don’t wait for me!”
“Let’s go, hurry!” she said, pushing Jiang Se forcefully to the door as she spoke and moved swiftly.
Behind them, Lu Bao Bao’s mother was hurrying down the porch as she shouted in reminder, “Don’t be late for dinner!”
Lu Bao Bao only waved back carelessly before running forward even faster, dragging Jiang Se along behind her.
“I did it! Thank goodness; I thought I would never get out of there!” she exclaimed as she patted her chest in relief and beamed at Jiang Se beside her.
Jiang Se only shook her head in helplessness and walked forward.
The bus stop near Lu Bao Bao’s home was still a ways away from the Shen Farms.
So although it was still within the suburbs of the capital, it was going to take both girls more than an hour by bus.
Footnotes小花旦 XiaoHuaDan – The most bankable young actresses of a generation -