Editor’s Note: Live stream webcasts in China are popular topic in Chinese news media at the moment because of their enormous popularity and grey legal area that the related companies operate in. Webcasts are generally thought of as a step above pornography, but Suki’s story and interview shows that this is not always the case. Suki has become a famous webcast star in China by keeping it classy and having genuine online G-rated interactions with her fans.
Suki ended up working as a live webcast performer after she was approached at her job as a receptionist at a hospital.
She had studied nursing at university and landed an internship at a hospital in Guangzhou. However, at the end of her internship, the hospital would only hire her as a medical guide rather than an actual nurse. Her job was similar to that of a receptionist.
Liu Hao had left his position in media three years prior to enter the online marketing industry. He started his own company called Liu Huang Shu.
This past Spring Festival, Liu Hao had visited the hospital in Guangzhou for a vaccine. He spotted Suki working at the front desk and approached her. He gave her his phone number and told her to contact him if she “wanted to do online webcasts.”
Liu Hao was surprised when she replied that she would resign her job and work with him.
Viral or Bust
Then, Suki’s grandmother had a stroke and she returned to her hometown in Hunan from early May to late June. While she was there, she realized that her dreams had changed. She had once wanted to study medicine, but now she wanted to become an online star.
The company did not promote her first webcast, but she still received over 10,000 viewers. Suki was given 1800 RMB as commission. At the time, she was renting a room in a neighborhood near Tianhe Bus Station for less than 1,000 RMB a month. She had a single room to herself with no private bathroom. She would take the 2 RMB bus instead of the 3 RMB subway to get to work. After two weeks of webcast work, Suki was able to move into an upscale apartment in Pearl River New City.
Liu Hao said that in the webcast industry, the company gives performers three months to go viral. If they are not popular after three months, they are let go. Suki said that the company had trained her strictly before her first webcast in order for it to be a success. They had spent a month preparing her for it.
Building a Brand
The company worked to give Suki her own brand identity. She was naturally beautiful, but that is not enough in the webcast world. Most women show off their legs and shoulders, but come off as cold and do not interact with their followers. Instead of being sexy and hard to get, Suki marketed herself as an “online girlfriend.” She talked about real topics and answered fan questions about life and dating (usually from single males). She even went on camera without makeup. Through this, she earned nearly 40,000 loyal followers. Suki began to attract the attention of the Internet and of webcast industry leaders.
Successful webcast stars are often invited to perform on TV shows. In early June, Suki was invited to take a screen test in Beijing for Liu Dan, the director of the hit television drama My Fair Princess 1. She did not practice at all, but the crew unanimously liked her performance. However, Suki felt like she still had a long way to go before she became a real star. She returned to Guangzhou immediately after the screen test. Liu Hao said that Suki has become popular very quickly, but usually the pace of growth slows after a few months. He said, “She has had it very easy, I need her to experience some slight setbacks in order to feel the pain and joy of success.”
The live steam industry has become more legitimate in recent years. Suki said that Liu Hao’s company has obtained a residence permit for her, and has given her insurance. Suki said, “I did not expect the company to help me with these things.” Suki has also been invited to perform live and give talks about the online webcast economy.
In Her Own Words
QQ News was recently able to interview Suki about her position in the webcast industry and her worst experiences with users.
QQ News: Why did you decide to quit your job in the medical field and work with a complete stranger?
Suki: I thought, yes! I was working in the vaccine and immunities clinic, standing seven hours a day in nine centimeter heels that had been provided by the hospital. I worked eight hour shifts and then had to commute. The job paid very little money, and it was not the nursing position I had hoped for. I had no free time. My parents visited from home once and had to come to the hospital to see me. I knew what my life would look like if I stayed in the hospital, but did not know what my life would look like with Huang Su. I knew it would be different from working in a hospital, so I wanted to try.
QQ News: How much did you know about live webcasts?
Suki: People always talk down about webcasts and webcasts stars, but at Huang Shu they told me that the company’s stars get attention by having positive energy, not from revealing their legs and chests. Liu Hao told me that stars must come off as very happy and that it was a way to earn a little money. That seemed very interesting to me.
QQ News: What is a typical day for a webcast star?
Suki: I am very busy! I do some administration and accounting, and then I go to dance class, piano lessons or voice training. I also work with a trainer every day. I actually have less free time then I had when I was working at the hospital, but my work is much more fulfilling. Now I have the life that I want.
QQ News: You plan to work as a webcast star for a few years right? What do you see yourself doing after that?
Suki: The day I signed with Liu Huang Shu, he said that the sooner I am able to retire, the better. He said that after two years, if the company still has to rely on my webcasts for money, then we are failures. At the time I did not understand, but I understand now. We want to create a larger network of affiliated webcast stars in which I will be transitioned to a manager or trainer role. I will be able to work behind the scenes, but will still have exposure as a manager.
QQ News: I wanted to ask a few questions about the webcasts themselves. How do you respond to fans that say provocative or sexually implicit things? How do you deal with unpleasant things like that?
Suki: Actually, there are several users every day who do this during my webcasts. First we block the user. We have quite a large blacklist at this point. My other fans yell at anyone who does this, so it does not make me feel upset. I learned about coping methods during training, and got used to this kind of thing happening early on.
QQ News: What is the worst thing that happens?
Suki: I want to talk about the bad fans: they usually pretend that I am a sex worker and that they are customers. They ask for my age, height, schedule, price, and other details. Then they ask, “Do you do public relations? Do you have an escort service?” I say, “No!” This is the iron law of the company. Then they are added to the blacklist.
Source: QQ News
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Keywords: webcast star Chinese webcast
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