Prepare yourself for a unique insight into the world of a Celebrity PA with expert knowledge from the incredible Jeremy Wilcox which will no doubt leave you feeling ready to take on the world and take your career to new levels. Think that looking after someone in the public eye is all champagne and shopping on Bond Street? Think again!
TAR: Hey Jez! How are you? You’re our 2nd guy to grace the covers of The Assistant Room in the PA Diaries, we appear to be on a bit of a roll!
JW: Thanks for having me!
TAR: So we have been speaking on and off for a while in between your jet setting across the globe however for those who are unfamiliar with you, it would be great to get the lowdown on who Jeremy Wilcox is and what he does for a living…
JW: Well my background was actually in Personal Training and I was very fortunate to meet some amazing people, which was the gateway into becoming a Private PA.
A client of mine approached me about 5 years ago to assist him with both his training and organising his personal life, I haven’t looked back since.
TAR: Wow, a pretty wild ride by the sounds of it but something you evidently love. So, as we all know, the industry is very female dominated with a few pockets of guys here and there something which I believe is going to start changing and the industry will start diversifying in the next few years.
We previously asked Brandon Fox who featured with us a few weeks ago what his thoughts on why there are so few men in the industry which he put down to the stereotype of the core skills of women. What are your thoughts on the illusion of the female only PA?
JW: That’s a very interesting point, in my opinion the role can be as diverse as ultimately what the client wants out of an assistant, in my case it was the fact that I could cross over into looking after his wellness and that I also had a keen interest in all things creative, which he also utilised. People’s perception of what a PA can be are definitely changing, plus the dynamic of having a male PA is appealing more and more.
Brandon raises an interesting point regarding stereotypes though, probably why being a male in this industry is seen as niche, but I think more people are coming around to the idea.
TAR: It’s an idea that everyone here at The Assistant Room are keen on supporting and making much more of a reality. The skills required to be an assistant are very specific to each person so I would agree that the thought of a male PA is becoming more appealing to more people.
‘People’s perception of what a PA can be are definitely changing, plus the dynamic of having a male PA is appealing more and more.’
What would you say as someone who transitioned into the role quite naturally are the core skills to have under your belt in order to make a success of your position?
JW: I think having the right personality match is pretty key, you certainly have to be calm under pressure and discretion is an absolute, but ultimately it’s building up trust as in any relationship. Everything else you can learn but if you don’t have the right personality for the job then it can be very tough.
Working so closely with anyone you’ll see them at their best, and worst. Don’t take things personally, never judge, accept that you’ll make mistakes and always have a back up plan.
TAR: You have absolutely nailed it and I totally agree with everything you’ve mentioned. This is not an easy gig to carry off if your personalities clash. So how has the role for you been so far? Obviously it was completely unexpected…was this a career you always imagined you would pursue?
JW: It’s been amazing, and no it wasn’t an intentional shift becoming a PA, I was just fortunate to be given the opportunity.
My friends think it’s the dream job as all they see are the private jets and exotic destinations etc, which of course is a fantastic perk, but what they fail to see is what I’m doing behind the scenes, yes it’s a glamorous world but the role can be far from glamorous and no job should be too small, you have to role your sleeves up and get stuck in.
Anyone reading this thinking that they would love to be a PA to a celebrity, I’m not going to lie, it’s tough.
‘Working so closely with anyone you’ll see them at their best, and worst. Don’t take things personally, never judge, accept that you’ll make mistakes and always have a back up plan.’
TAR: The Celebrity and UHNW world is certainly a completely different angle on what the job is and is on a massively different level to the more common office positions. I think some of the stories that we could probably conjure up would shock poeple beyond belief!
When looking after someone in such a public position, confidentiality is massively important and as you mentioned, it’s all about building trust within that relationship. For those who perhaps are struggling to identify with the person that they support, what advice would you give them to help improve in this area?
JW: That’s a very difficult question, I think depending on the role, it’s perhaps easier to keep that more corporate professional distance, but I’ve always worked in more private roles where you can’t really have those barriers up.
My only advice would be if it’s not a good fit and you’re unhappy, move on, seriously. I hear of people crying at night with stress from work, life’s way too short, you have to find a role that you are genuinely happy and enthusiastic about, the rest will take care of itself.
TAR: Excellent advice! So taking into consideration your role to this date, what would you say has been your biggest achievement?
JW: Well I have been involved in some pretty big events over the past few years, unfortunately I can’t reveal any specifics, and they are not really my achievements, but that’s the job. Be the support to ultimately let the talent or client concentrate on what they do best. It’s great to know you’ve been a part of something, but the role does require you to operate behind the scenes, often without recognition and I’m fine with that.
TAR: Something that is important to remember to all of those newbie PA’s, that you are there to support, assist and guide and put in the hard work it takes to get to the final product which all so often is what your principle will take ownership of. A natural part of the role but something that not everyone expects! And likewise with the opposite end of the scale, what has been the toughest point in your career so far?
JW: Well the volume of pressure around the aforementioned events, sleepless nights (literally), huge press and media demands, trying to stay on top of an ever changing diary and having to be reactionary, which requires so much more energy. Having said that, I actually thrive off the energy, so although I would say yes it’s the toughest, it’s also some of the best moments of my role at the same time.
‘I hear of people crying at night with stress from work, life’s way too short, you have to find a role that you are genuinely happy and enthusiastic about, the rest will take care of itself.’
TAR: Going back to a point from our earlier discussion regarding the male presence within the PA industry, what guidance would you give to those who feel that as a guy, this role is off limits due to their gender?
JW: Nothing should be off limits due to gender! Again I think that this harps back to people’s perceptions and the stereotypes of what a PA is / does. The role as we have already discussed is so varied, I have a friend who is also a male PA, bodyguard and manny!
When I was recently seeking out a new position, I looked at it as an advantage being a male and having a unique set of skills to bring to the table. Sometimes you have to open people’s eyes to what you can do for them. Plus being a male working for a female can be a really positive dynamic.
TAR: Amazing advice to all of the guys out there and hopefully something which will really be taken on board by the future male PA community! So just before we move on to quick fire, what would be the one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back at your time when you first started this role?
JW: Take up some form of meditation! Joking aside, finding the right balance and knowing that it’s ok to say no on occasion, part of the nature of being a PA is typically you want to always help out, but striking up a good work life balance is key. The role can be all encompassing if you let it so making sure your talents life doesn’t become your own.
TAR: Best power dressing outfit…
JW: Never outshine your talent! So typically black for me, however I do have a electric blue Tom Ford number for downtime.
TAR: What does love smell like?
JW: Peaches and cream.
TAR: Your biggest inspiration?
JW: Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break.
TAR: You’re biggest guilty pleasure?
JW: Does Bon Jovi count?
TAR: Where is the first place you go/thing you do after a long hard day?
JW: Soho Hotel bar for an Old Fashioned…
TAR: You’re favourite album?
JW: That’s like asking someone who’s your favourite child! I’ve got such an eclectic taste so would depend on my mood, everything from Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots to Gwen McCrae.
TAR: Your favourite restaurant in London?
JW: Bocca Di Lupo in Soho.
TAR: The one phrase that gets you through a tough day?
JW: In the big picture of life do I really need to stress, probably not.
Have an awesome weekend guys!