Being a Hollywood assistant has never been easy, and now it's even harder during the time of the virus. In fact, I dare say the most difficult assistant jobs on the planet are probably those in the Entertainment business. The hours are grueling, and the pay is even worse. PAs working 10 to 12 hours a day is standard operating procedure, and many more PAs actually put in more time off the clock -- all in an effort to "pay their dues" and "prove themselves."
You may be wondering how and why this would even be allowed. How can the entertainment industry do this? The answer is simple: because they can. Thousands upon thousands of hopefuls arrive in Hollywood every year. They are seeking fame and fortune. Tens of thousands enroll in Southern California's universities and when they graduate, there simply aren't enough jobs to accommodate all of the graduates.
So, strapped with student debt and skyrocketing rents, these hopefuls work for menial wages as assistants to actors, producers, directors and top-tier talent agents.
I get emails from aspiring assistants every day. The emails come from all over the world. People want to know how they can work for a celebrity, UHNWI or even a billionaire. They want advice and career guidance. The first piece of advice I give them is not to work in the entertainment industry because of the low wages and high pressure. The real money and career stability is working for high-net-worth families, but many aspiring personal assistants don't listen to me because they have stars in their eyes. They want to walk the red carpets and walk side-by-side with A-list celebrities.
The brutal fact is that for every "successful" writer, producer, actor, agent, or director in the entertainment business, there are hundreds more who didn't "make it." Essentially, they spent 10 years or more of their lives breaking their backs trying to climb up the ladder to no avail. This is the truth for personal assistants with no sugarcoating.
My advice is this: If you want to be a PA, it can be a very lucrative career path. The salaries can soar to $150,000 or even $250,000 a year -- but you have to have a very specific career plan; and, perhaps more importantly, you have to get specialized training. I suggest, again, going for the HNW because the job stability is much greater. As for the Hollywood assistant, you can try it short term to get some experience, but then move on to green pastures if it doesn't work out for you.
By Brian Daniel
Domestic Staffing Blog
Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty.