Aspiring personal assistants are always asking us if the portrayals in Hollywood movies (like The Devil Wears Prada) are true. The quick answer: no.
To be fair, the insanity of a celebrity personal assistant does exist, but it usually is greatly exaggerated so that reviewers will write salacious articles that will entice moviegoers who hope to be entertained. The movie Swimming with Sharks (Kevin Spacey) is much worse than Prada, but is not as well-known.
At The Celebrity Personal Assistant Network, we feel a much more honest portrayal of the high-end personal assistant can be seen in Adrian Lyne’s Indecent Proposal (starring Robert Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson). In the film, Redford plays a billionaire (John Gage) with an assistant named Mr. Shackleford (played by Seymour Cassel).
Mr. Shackleford’s position is what’s known in the business as a hybrid personal assistant because he wears several hats, and can also be seen driving Gage in the movie.
Personal assistants often have multiple roles, which vary from employer to employer. However, the role in Indecent Proposal is more true-to-life when working for the high net worth because most employers are not going to be throwing bagels at their assistants. In fact, there is a line in Proposal where Woody Harrelson’s character asks Robert Redford’s character who Mr. Shackleford is. Redford replies, “Someone I trust.” That, absolutely, is real life.
Anyone on the Forbes “Rich List,” for example, got there because they understand that treating colleagues with respect is essential. No high-profile business professional wants to have to recruit a new assistant every six months, which is what happens to employers who are mean to their personal assistants and make them quit.
Robert Redford’s personal assistant in Indecent Proposal (Paramount, 1993) is more real-life