High-profile celebrities and media moguls have people to see and places to go. They don’t pick up their own dry cleaning; that’s where the personal assistant comes in. These champions of indentured servitude gladly perform menial tasks for the reward of jet-setting with the star to Paris, or rubbing elbows backstage at the Grammys.
Surrounding every notable name is an entourage proportionate to the celebrity status of the famous face; the personal assistant often acts as the go-between for the client and fills in the gap where the agent ends and the publicist begins. The first mission is to keep your client’s brand operational, whether that means updating his or her Facebook status, walking the dogs, or reading scripts. Most high-profile clients are scheduled down to the minute, being pulled in a dozen different directions. It is the personal assistant’s responsibility to manage their day-to-day errands and appointments. The celebrity’s life becomes your life, as you are intimately involved in each of their daily activities: paying the bills, picking the kids up from school, planning the birthday guest list, getting the cars washed, making the latte run, shopping for special food requests, and a million other details. The personal assistant’s job description is fluid, and he or she must be flexible. Depending on the client, you may be a housekeeper, babysitter, secretary, or travel agent. Anything is fair game, and there is no request too eccentric; the assistant rolls with the punches and juggles every demand while taking the stress in stride.
Skills & Education
Any educational background is acceptable, but no single degree can completely prepare you for this labor-intensive occupation. Experience as a secretary or administrative assistant to a senior-level business executive is excellent preparation, as is work as a production assistant, in marketing, or public relations. Practical skills like basic bookkeeping, word processing, scheduling, and multitasking are a necessity. You must be able to anticipate needs, effectively manage numerous pressing deadlines, and be resourceful when your client comes to you with an impossible request. Ultimately your job interview will hinge on how much the client likes you.
What to Expect
Every personal assistant has an agenda, whether it’s to pitch a screenplay, get a record deal, or land a role opposite Matt Damon—or that’s the cliché, anyway. The truth is that you may find it difficult to crawl out from under the “assistant” label. For starters, on set or in the studio, you are “so-and-so’s assistant” and do not have a name of your own. When you are trying to take advantage of networking opportunities, you need people to remember your name. On the other hand, if you prefer to be the insider behind the famous face, with power over the publicity schedule, the travel itinerary, and the guest list, this is the right gig. Loyalty will get you everywhere, and tight lips will keep you employed. Your employer must be able to trust you implicitly. Most importantly, “no” is never an option. Other celebrities will often court an attentive, hard-working personal assistant heavily; and it is common to see assistants who have made the transition into the corporate world of PR, styling, or other behind-the-scenes work.
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