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In Hollywood, Being a Friend Is a Paying Job


F. Scott Fitzgerald was right: the rich are different from the rest of us. Add fame to the mix, and you wind up with people who live in an entirely separate universe from everyone else. For example, did you know that some celebrities essentially pay people to be their friends?


(Photo Credit: wwarby/Flickr)

Technically, the job title is “personal assistant,” and while not every assistant fills the friend role, some wind up doing more than just arranging travel and fetching dry cleaning. As a recent XOJane piece reminds us, working for the mega-rich and famous can be an exercise in losing your own freedom.

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The anonymous author details several regular duties that aren’t in her job description, including:

  • Waxing the boss’s car while everyone watched her.
  • Driving 200 miles to fetch the boss’s dog, because she “suddenly decided she missed him.”
  • Sleeping in the garage on a lounge chair, because the celebrity decided to invite more people to her house, and there was no room.

But perhaps the most draining of her responsibilities is acting as a sort of one-way confidante.

“Of course there are good days, but it’s the bad days you never forget,” the author writes. “Like the one day that started with my boss greeting me with a coffee and the question: ‘So — who should we fire today?’ It’s like a game to her. To me, it’s agony that some 22-year-old who looked at my boss the wrong way is now going to have her livelihood taken away on a whim, and I’m a part of it.”

And then, of course, there’s the hypocrisy that the position requires. The writer’s boss, for example, claimed that she thrived on brutally honest feedback from her assistants, but was horrified when the author was honest.

Basically, imagine living in an alternate reality in which your friends and family could ask for things from you, but never the other way around. And also, if you displeased them, you’d lose everything. For this, you might earn the princely sum of around $40,000 a year — the average annual salary for personal assistants in Los Angeles.

No wonder, then, that PayScale’s research shows most people don’t stick with this particular career for the duration of their working lives. There are only so many lounge chairs you can sleep on.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Brian Daniel

Yes, there are very bad personal assistant jobs, but there are many more great ones.  I have to disagree with the PA salary because it’s an entry level number.  When I was a personal assistant to celebrities and billionaires, I made well over $150,000 a year. 

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