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Trans Continental Talent, Scouting Beijing
The Trans Continental Talent Company (TCT) established a branch in Beijing on November 28. TCT is responsible for the likes of the Back Street Boys group and singer Britney Jean Spears, and is considered the world leader in talent discovery and development.

So far, the Beijing branch has hired and trained 20-plus scouts. As of last week, these scouts began showing up in shopping malls, restaurants, cafés and bars as well as on the street, trying to spot would-be stars among the seas of people. Surprise, pleasure, refusal and embarrassment are all part of the job. Yet, within the first week these scouts have made headway, discovering a host of potential talent. The company places the new talents’ profiles online and recommends them to companies in the entertainment industry.

The most important skill for professional scouts is a sharp and critical eye, said Liu Yamei, a lady who trains new recruits for the company. They should be amiable and sociable, with a neat and tidy appearance and have sound communication skills. In addition, scouts should appear trustworthy and be able to act calmly when rejected. They should also be genuinely interested in the work, she said. The firm has set no requirements for educational level on scouts and no ceiling on their salaries. It all depends on one’s performance.

Although a mature industry in some foreign countries, scouting is a new concept to most Chinese. “Many local people don’t approve of the idea of scouts in Beijing,” said Qi Bin, a 26-year scout for TCT, who used to work for a television station. He has found five talents who have now become signed models.

On his first day of work he met a setback. While searching he came across a beautiful graceful girl on Xidan Commercial Street in Beijing. He encouraged himself to approach the girl and try to persuade her to be interviewed by his company. After introducing himself and presenting his job card the girl asked doubtingly, “Why should I trust you?”

“One third of the people I approach say no. The main reason is that ordinary Chinese know little about scouts, let alone trust us,” said Qi Bin. “Other times we are politely refused with a simple ‘Sorry, I have no interest.’ Despite all this, I am confident the job is challenging and meaningful. It brings opportunities and joy to myself and others.”

Li Ying, a 30-year scout, shared similar experiences to Qi Bin. “I like strolling through shopping malls the best for my work. I found a girl this morning but was refused. She told me she had no gift to be a star,” said Li. Li Ying used to serve as a hotel manager in Beijing and has good communication skills.

“Scouts can discover and help would-be child stars too, on the condition their parents agree. We won’t contact the children if their parents don’t give us their consent. Scouting is not as easy as thought it would be,” said Li Her whose daughter has become a new talent for the company. “My work helps me develop my confidence and improves my ability to communicate with people.”

“Although not as developed as the entertainment industry in the US or Europe the Chinese market has good prospects. The entire world is now looking at China,” said Rao Anli, manager of the Trans Continental Company, Shanghai branch. “Its traditional culture and the face of Chinese style appeals to the world. Lu Yan, a fashion model who emerged as the first Chinese runner-up at the Metropolitan Top Model 2000 Competition held in Beijing, is extremely successful overseas. Talents don’t have to be beautiful or handsome. Uniqueness is perhaps the most important thing.”

There are some Chinese, especially amongst the young, who show a keen interest in the company and cherish the dream of one day becoming a star. The chosen talents pay US$300 to TCT to join their giant talent archive. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the Trans Continental branches in China see a long line of new talent in and outside the offices waiting to be interviewed by TCT personnel.

In foreign countries, scouting has developed quickly. It’s not just young people who work as scouts. In fact often the best scouts in the business are middle aged. Yet in China, scouting is still in its infancy. Trans Continental set up a branch in Shanghai on September 17 this year. Shanghai and Beijing together have more than 40 scouts.

Trans Continental Talent Company is the largest and most successful new-talent-scout firm in the world. It has branches and agencies all over the globe, with more than 5,000 staff.

(china.org.cn by Guo Xiaohong December 9, 2002)

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