Life Of A Celeb P.A.: Dream Job Or Career From Hell?

CELEB-PA-EMBEDDEDPhoto: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.
One might imagine assisting the rich and famous would be a dream come true (flying-phone attacks and requests to commit cyber crime aside — just ask Courtney Love's former P.A.). Your job would be filled with insider secrets, endless freebies, and a heap of un-Photoshopped insecurities. But, according to one celebrity P.A., who shared her story with The Independent, it’s “not a job for everyone.”
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Deborah Shaw, former P.A. to Oscar-winning actor Charlton Heston, gives interesting insight into this secretive occupation. According to Shaw, salaries were "very dependent on who you're dealing with,” and if you were prepared to work around-the-clock. If you're ready for a 24/7 work week, you could expect to earn between £75,000 and £100,000 a year. A sweet deal but at what cost to your personal life?
Another seasoned celebrity aide, Donna Coulling, who’s worked with Helena Bonham-Carter and Rachel Weisz for over a decade, also sheds light on the more rewarding aspects of the job. “Every day is different and I love not knowing what I'm doing from one to the next. It takes a certain type of person to do this job — not everybody can do it." And, it’s not all expensive gifts either, as Coulling reveals that presents are mainly given on special occasions. Although, she does admit to getting first dibs on award-ceremony goody bags. Lucky girl.
But, every lucrative career comes with its share of horror stories, and Christian Bale's ex-assistant, Harrison Cheung spilled them all in her tell-all book. Yes, 2 a.m. phone calls were involved. But, Shaw insists it isn't all bad, and ultimately advises P.A.s not to forget their place. "Even though you can get on really well and you respect each other and enjoy each other's company, the bottom line is that you're being paid to be there.” Point taken.
Tempted to get into the P.A. game? It’s all about keeping mum if you want to get ahead, say both Shaw and Coulling, who are members of the Association of Celebrity Assistants. "You have to sign a confidentiality agreement to join, so what's said in the room stays in the room," explains Shaw. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that powwow. (The Independent)
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