Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Panel discussion debut on Chinese television
Haha, I just love life in China! It never turns out to be the way you thought! Remember how I told you I was going to be in the audience of a TV show? Well, as it turns out, I ended up being in the “Swedish panel” –answering questions in Chinese instead.
The Swedish panel consisted of three guests. When one woman suddenly had to cancel, the TV team (that I had met during our initial meeting) called my colleague and told her that they wanted me to take her spot. I was something between terrified and exhilarated, and said yes. I was then given a script and three questions that I needed to prepare answers for.
The program was being filmed in Changxing, as it was a program about the friendship between the Chinese city Changxing and the Swedish city Kalmar. Changxing is located some 2 hours drive from Shanghai, so it took a while to get there: the TV team sent a bus that they packed with Swedes that they picked up from several different companies.
We arrived one hour late and I was taken straight to a room where a rehearsal was taking place between the Chinese guests and a producer, acting host. Since I could speak Chinese I was allowed to participate and we went through our answers. I soon, however, noticed that one of my questions wasn’t asked and raised the issue with the producer.
-Oh, the questions we gave you are just something we put together. What the host will actually ask you we don’t know. It depends on his mood!
The host was in fact a minor celebrity host (Ji Xiaojun) from CCTV. I realized this by looking at my Chinese colleague who got rather hysterical when she saw him. Nice.
Going through the program took a while, and then it was suddenly just 20 min before we were going to start shooting. I had neither done my make-up or my hair, nor had I eaten since 11.30am (it was 6pm). Dinner was just being served. I was starting to feel stressed.
I prioritized looking good and threw some rice into my mouth before I headed to the hair & make-up room, which was a large room full of pretty little Chinese girls aka make-up artists. When I stepped in they freaked out. First came a war of giggling, and then no one dared to come up to me. Not until I said to one girl in Chinese that I they didn’t have to be scared of me did a girl work up the courage and started applying thick lawyers of make-up to my skin. I’ve never had TV-make-up on before and I have to say that it’s a kind of special feeling. My workmate who later saw me reacted pretty badly: “my gosh Jonna, what have they done to your face?! Rubbed it in clay?!”
I did my hair myself (simply brushed it, no time for anything else) and then I ran up to the stage and took my spot at the most uncomfortable wooden chair I’ve ever sat on. I then sat there for 2,5 hours, while we shot the program. It was completely over there top with a guy warming up the audience, telling them when to smile, when to clap, and so on. Fortunately it wasn’t being sent live because the team had a lot of difficulties with the sound. All in all we were 6 guests on stage: 3 Chinese and 3 Swedes, + the host and then the mayor of Changxing made an appearance every now and then. There was also a phone interview made from a TV studio in Stockholm.
Now, as for the questions I had to answer… eh…. Well, let’s put it this way. All my preparations and practice was in vain: I didn’t get to answer anything I knew how to answer. Instead, I got questions like:
-So, Little Youna! (the host nicknamed me 小友 “xiao you” because he thought my name was funny), what do you know about the local culture in Changxing? Do you know anything about our traditions!?
And there I was, thinking I was going to speak about Swedish design, Kalmar sightseeing and crystal glassware? I had to improvise, big time! (Well at least I got the audience to laugh twice, without the “audience warmer’s” help. Touchdown).
Although I was really nervous at first I eventually calmed down, and in the end it was kind of fun. I understood everything that was being said, and although my Chinese was probably quite shitty at least the host understood me and we could keep the conversation going. All in all I’m pretty proud of myself!
Afterwards I was interviewed by Changxing’s local news, and I also had to translate for another Swedish guest who was being interviewed. I got a lot of compliments for being able to speak Chinese, and although it was a long (and hungry!) ride back to Shanghai I was filled with happiness when I eventually came home. What a day! And how much fun is life here in China?! You never know what to expect! I love it!