While the celebrity lifestyle may appear to be filled with glitzy red carpets and A-list events, there’s plenty that goes on behind-the-scenes that isn’t quite as glamorous.
Behind most celebrities is a team of people working to make sure everything looks perfect and runs smoothly in the hectic life of a star. In addition to agents, managers, publicists, and a glam squad, many stars also have a personal assistant managing the logistics of their hectic lives.
From booking flights to planning meetings and anything in between, assistants are the backbone of the busy schedules of many stars and entrepreneurs..
In New York, assistants for many leading celebrities and business moguls participate in a professional group called New York Celebrity Assistants.
We spoke with seven assistants from the association and learned about what it’s like to work for a high-profile employer in New York City.
'No two days are ever the same' when working for Skinnygirl Cocktails founder Bethenny Frankel, Frankel's executive assistant, Meghan Herd, tells Business Insider.
Herd began working for the entrepreneur and star of Bravo's 'The Real Houswives of New York' in 2013, after deciding that she 'needed a change' from her job as an assistant to a number of leading musicians.
As Frankel's assistant, Herd says she now wears 'many hats.'
'Whether I am trying to get a seat on a flight an hour before take-off, getting a table at the hottest new restaurant or making sure the office is running smoothly,' Herd says, 'I am proud of getting things done when somebody says it can't be done.'
Herd occassionally appears alongside her employer on 'Real Housewives,' and in an interview with Hollywood Life, Herd describes the experience of handling Frankel's chaotic travel schedule as being 'like that scene in 'Home Alone' -- we're just running to the gate everytime.'
2014 was a busy year for actress Julianne Moore.
As the assistant to Moore and her husband, filmmaker Bart Freundlich, Vanessa King acted as a 'sort of Mission Control' for the actress's travel plans and schedules during the hectic award season that culminated in Moore's Oscar win for Best Actress.
King started the job nearly a decade ago, after leaving another assistant gig with the family who lived across the street from Moore. 'I ran into Julie on the street,' King says, 'and she asked if I was interested in working with her.'
Today, King works out of her employers' luxurious West Village apartment, acting as a contact point for business matters and charities -- such as The Children's Health Fund and the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, in which Moore is actively involved.
Gail Abrahamsen became the personal assitant to real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran in 2005, and her job has grown in responsibilty as Corcoran's star has risen in recent years with her recurring role as a judge on ABC's 'Shark Tank.'
Handling Corcoran's three email accounts, Abrahamsen responds to over 300 emails per day. 'Many hours are spent managing her endless media/TV appearance requests and making sure all are on the calendar (our bible),' Abrahamsen says.
When Corcoran requested a lavish launch party for her book, 'Shark Tales,' in 2011, Abrahamsen managed to come through with all of her employer's eclectic demands -- including finding a model to dress up as a mermaid and two twin girls to greet her guests in swimsuits.
Whether planning out her employer's many speaking events or tracking down a 'lost heirloom pearl necklace at the XpresSpa in JFK airport,' Abrahamsen admits that there's 'never a dull moment' on the job.
'Every day is a new adventure at Barbara Corcoran Inc.,' she says.
Ten years ago, Erica First was working for Alec Baldwin when he guest starred on 'Will & Grace.' On the set of the popular NBC program, First met the sitcom's star, Debra Messing, and became close friends with her assistant.
Then, two and a half years ago, when the opportunity to work for Messing in New York presented itself, First accepted an offer she couldn't refuse.
'In my line of work, 'no' isn't an option,' First says.
A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, First puts her degree to good use in a demanding position where 'communication is everything.'
'I liaise with my employer's team -- manager, publicist, agent, attorney -- and see things through from start to finish,' she says.
Before the second season of Messing's NBC show 'The Mysteries of Laura' premieres on September 23, First will be 'constantly on the go,' moving from film sets to red carpets and assuring that Ms. Messing 'can focus on the work she needs to do.'
Kelly Engstrom began working for interior designer Nate Berkus nearly five years ago, back when he was launching 'The Nate Berkus Show,' a spin-off from 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' in New York City.
Since the show ended in 2012, Engstrom has taken on more responsibility under Berkus in a job that she describes as 'terrifically unpredictable and volleys constantly between the professional and personal.'
Berkus calls Engstrom 'the queen of moving,' and in the past five years, Engstrom has overseen three major home renovations for Berkus' company, all while managing their online storefront,
'Few things are as satisfying as the big reveal when the client sees their new home fully furnished and beautifully appointed,' Engstrom says.
Earlier this summer, Berkus returned the favour to Engstrom by performing a home makeover on his personal assistant's Brooklyn apartment. Engstrom's new digs were featured in a July piece from Rue Magazine, called 'Nate Does It Again.'
As the personal assistant to Steve Madden for the past nine years, Nancy Alfaro has helped facilitate the shoe mogul's various business ventures from the company's corporate offices in Long Island City, Queens.
Alfaro describes the office as 'a busy colourful place, filled with textiles, sparkling stones, buckles, laces, and everything else that goes into the making of a shoe' -- where 'genius designers and cobblers' are at work making samples for new signature shoes.
A self-described 'people person,' Alfaro enjoys 'the lively swirl' of Madden's Manhattan showroom, where she directs people to meetings and answers phones, ensuring that the shows go smoothly.
When Madden began taking meetings to promote up-and-coming musicians, Alfaro was by his side at each session -- working with celebrities, artists and the many contributors (including Iggy Azalea) who have now made their way through the Steve Madden Music program.
The world of professional event planning involves simultaneous coordination in a number of locations across the globe. With help of his assistant, Lindsay Colbus, event planner Bronson Van Wyck is able to manage one of the busiest travel schedules in the industry.
'The whole culture of our company is about being behind-the-scenes, being the silent partner to our clients, the steady hand, the thoughtful advisor,' Colbus says. 'I guess that's kind of what I am for Bronson!'
In 2012, Colbus helped Van Wyck launch Arrowhead Farms, his line of premium cocktail mixes -- 'The Hellfire Club Bloody Mary mix is the best morning after cure,' Colbus says -- and she also serves as the point person for her employer's many philanthropic endeavours.
As a founding member of and trustee for Friends of the High Line, Van Wyck has raised nearly $US10 million for the High Line park in Manhattan, which he was 'instrumental' in creating, according to Colbus.
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