Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Star Treatment for the Celebrity PAs; JUST THE JOB

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Star Treatment for the Celebrity PAs; JUST THE JOB

Article excerpt


It's a demanding 24-hour job to be at the beck and call of the rich and famous, but Marley Obi discovers it is not without perks

LARA Flynn-Boyle, star of Men in Black II, recently revealed that in the early days of her relationship with Jack Nicholson, it wasn't the actor himself but his personal assistant, who would call to arrange dates.

To a corporate PA, organising Jack Nicholson's love life may seem a far more exciting prospect than scheduling dull meetings for boring business types.

But how easy is it to be PA to a celebrity?

Getting the job in the first place is often the biggest difficulty.

"Showbusiness is quite incestuous and celebrity PA positions are rarely advertised," says Stella Walker, MD of Handle Recruitment. " Usually PAs will have worked in the industry in a different capacity. They tend to be carefully handpicked and word of mouth plays a big part."

But it is not impossible for corporate PAs to make the move to being a celebrity PA (CPA), as long as they have excellent organisational and interpersonal skills and can demonstrate a passion for the job. "A good route in is to temp in TV, film, music and management companies because their clients are celebrities. If you are already in a permanent PA job then make sure you register with media and communication agencies that have access to those sorts of jobs, but be prepared to wait," advises Amanda Fone, managing director of Pathfinders.

For Persia Sethi, 31, a former bookkeeping temp, being PA to Status Quo is a dream job that she couldn't contemplate ever leaving. "I really look forward to Mondays," she says.

"The job is extremely varied.

I could be filming or booking flights and I get to travel with the band, which is fantastic. I speak to a lot of people such as agents, travel companies and the crew and build up relationships. The time just flies because you are doing different things."

Susie Steadman, PA to singer Darren Hayes, is not office based. She travels with the singer, working out of hotel rooms and organising every aspect of his life. So far this year she has spent less than a week at home. "I've never been a nine-to-five person-and the highs and lows of the entertainment industry are what I thrive on. I wake Darren up every morning and I am usually the last person he speaks to at night. His life is my life and I am always five steps ahead, anticipating his needs so that he never has to think about anything except performing."

When working that close to a celebrity, diplomacy, discretion and loyalty are all important. Most celebrities will insist on assistants signing a confidentiality agreement.

There is no job description for a CPA. The role is often a cross between a trusted aide and a general skivvy task can be consider demeaning. …

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