The world of a Celebrity PA is often seen as glamorous and glossy, but with 24/7 calls, the constant change in time zones, managing interviews, meetings and shows, as well as multiple homes around the world, a team of staff, and ever-changing travel arrangements – all whilst juggling, sometimes, wacky requests and dealing with paparazzi – it is a role that many are intrigued by.
19 London had a chat with one of our candidates, Andrea – who has worked as a celebrity PA for over 10 years. Andrea gave us an insight into what a Celebrity PA role entails and what it’s really like working for the rich and famous.
Firstly, please tell us a little about yourself and your background
I have been working as a PA for over 10 years now, having previously worked at The Sunday Times/Culture Magazine in the advertising section, which was an office job I enjoyed. However, I always wanted more, and the drive to become something different. I was lucky enough to go to lots of theatre productions and film premieres, which led me into the wonderful world of becoming a PA to celebrities.
Describe your job in 3 words
Confidential, loyal, trustworthy
How did you first become a Personal Assistant?
I was at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, when I met a lady from Universal Music. A particular act was on and she asked me what I thought of them. He was a new and upcoming artist and I thought he had star quality and believed he would go far.
We got on so well she invited me to become the moderator on his fan forum for Universal Music. This then led to meeting the artist and becoming his part time PA. After the trust was built I then became his full time PA and ventured on his first world tour. You could say I was at the right time at the right place.
Was there one particular moment that you remember when you initially realized that working in the world of VIPs was the career path for you?
Yes – it was at the premiere of ‘Good Night Good Luck’, which starred George Clooney. I was helping out with the event staff from the Sunday Times, and had been invited to the showing by the Times Film Festival, but it was at the after party I just knew I wanted to do this as a living. You could say it was the glitz and the glamour that first became my dream.
What was the draw to working with celebrities, over a more corporate role, like a CEO for example?
For me it is being hands on, proactive. Running around, sorting someone’s life out so they are not stressed – you are the friend, the worker, the mum and sometimes even the counsellor. You are with this person all the time and have to become their right-hand. I just couldn’t see myself as a behind a desk sort of person
What’s the best part about your job?
Travelling the world and staying in the best hotels is the biggest perk. Going to and working on the Oscar’s and the Grammys is by far the pinnacle. Realising that your boss is on stage and you just get that sense of achievement and being proud. Makes it all worth it.
And the worst?
You need to get used to the jet lag. It all sounds extremely glamorous and most of the time it is. However, you have to master the jet lag when you are always on the go.
What does it feel like to be working with those in the media spotlight on a daily basis?
I am lucky to have good relationships with the people I have worked with. No day is the same. You are their confidant, friend and worker all in one. As you are a trusted employee it feels like you are not at work at all and enjoying your time with them.
Describe a typical day; what work does it entail, what hours do you work, what problems do you face?
24-7 on call is invaluable, so too is an early start.
6am read all messages & mails especially from overseas.
Check diary, make notes of what is to be expected on that day and compile a small list for the principal, so they are aware of all the day’s events.
Being with a touring artist, this is invaluable – sound checks, promo, media interviews etc.
Liaising with numerous staff, hotels, travel arrangements and management.
Making security aware of movements throughout the day.
Making time for lunch, special requirements to tell the chef.
Dry cleaning for show clothes.
Making sure the principal has everything they need to make the day smooth.
For a singer, keeping note of everything that is required for the voice, health-wise and breaks.
Multi-tasking is essential everything changes last minute so flexibility is key
What makes you a good contender to work as a celebrity Personal Assistant?
Trustworthy and discreet is by far the most important. Highly organised, enthusiastic, proactive with a can-do attitude. Flexible with hours and able to cope with last minute changes. It is not for the faint hearte
If I wanted to be a celebrity PA, what experience would you suggest I get?
Start off as a PA in an office. Get the experience of being organised and proactive. Being an intern in record companies, music management, film agencies etc – that gets you the insight of what you could achieve, as well as the contacts.
Build your relationships with these people. Word of mouth is a great help!
What’s one of the most difficult situations you’ve faced whilst working for celebrities?
Paparazzi. I know we all have a job to do, but they are just everywhere and intrusive. It is all about that one photo. Luckily, we have a great security team around us that efficiently deal with them. However, they can be difficult sometimes.
Without revealing too much detail, what is the wackiest request you’ve ever been asked to do?
Laughing at this one!… there are several however…
“Can you get me a bath full of milk!” springs to mind…
Are you selective with the celebrities you work for? Are there people you would never work for?
No, it’s all about the match of personalities and getting on with that person.
To the outside world a celebrity’s world looks like a life of true glamour and riches; is it truly as glamorous as social media profiles allude to?
Some of it, yes! But, the long tour bus journeys, sleeping in a bunk bed, the really early starts on a video shoots come to mind, and lack of sleep. You need serious amounts of eye cream and know how to pack light!
It is really hard work, but the benefits are to travel around the world, the 5-star hotels and being looked after.
How do you find a healthy work/life balance?
Try to get enough sleep when you can. Eating healthy is a must for the energy.
Some celebrities help (or make!) you train with their personal trainer, so you get involved. Begrudgingly.
Although the role is 24/7 most celebrities understand family and friends are important too, so it’s always good to catch up when you can.
If money were no object, what career would you be in and why?
I would still be in a similar role. For me it is about looking after someone.
Andrea has worked for a world-renowned A-List Hollywood music superstar, as well as actresses, pop stars, and others in the public eye.
At 19 London, we specialize in the placement of Personal and Executive Assistants in the UK and internationally.
Whether it’s a Personal Assistant to a CEO, a Director of a private Family Office, an Agent for well-known entertainment talent, or like Andrea, a celebrity themselves, 19 London offers unbeatable candidates for the job.
If you are interested in becoming a personal assistant, or looking to hire one, please get in touch with 19 London today.