While most regular people spend half their waking hours wondering what to wear, how to shed pounds of booze and pizza, and why their latest tweet hasn’t received so much as a ‘favorite,’ A-Listers have a whole crew of trained professionals to make sure they look, act, sound, and feel like the million bucks they have in the bank.
It’s easy to forget about what goes on behind the flawless couture making its way down the red carpet, but all of Hollywood’s power players are only as powerful as the players surrounding them.
From tenacious agents to the glam squad, here are the satellites orbiting your A-List superstar.
Agents are willing (and able) to lie, cheat, and steal for their clients – and their cut. Because it’s a commission-based position, an agent’s success depends on a celebrity’s success…which means it’s in the agent’s best interest to convince everyone that their client is the most talented, undiscovered extra to appear on Law & Order, ever.
The publicist acts as a liaison between the press and the image the A-Lister wants to present. They keep a watchful eye over their client during interviews, making sure to intervene if the celebrity says something offensive or inappropriate. They also ensure their client’s good-deed-to-scandal ratio remains favorable by highlighting the celebrity’s altruism (the goal here is to be called a “humanitarian” by the press). The celeb should have enough good will in the public eye to afford them a screw-up every now and then. Getting a DUI? Not okay. But getting a DUI after funneling money into a public school’s dying music program? Eh, we’ll get over it.
Managers are part-agent, part-publicist, part-lawyer, part-friend, and part-parent. They’re always on-call, whether it’s to negotiate a contract or to console a celebrity about an impending, soon-to-be-made-public divorce. Managers’ #1 function is to look out for their client when no one else will, so celebrities often enlist one or both of their parents for the job — at least until things go horribly wrong, at which point the celebrity fires their own flesh and blood and hires a professional).
The assistant signs their life away to become a celebrity’s anonymous shadow. They go everywhere with their boss, whether it’s to set in Scandinavia or to Monaco on vacation. While that sounds pretty glamorous, the pros and cons of this position have everything to do with the celebrity calling the shots. Some assistants are glorified babysitters, some are personal shoppers, and some are just a celebrity’s friend who collects a paycheck to ensure her “boss” doesn’t get her purse stolen at Katana.
Handlers are like assistants who’ve already gone through the gauntlet and are ready to take charge of their client. They make sure their celebrity is on time for events and that nothing goes awry once they arrive. They’re called “handlers” because they handle everything: crowds, questions, cranky clients. Handlers are those super-stressed people escorting A-Listers through the red carpet maze and ensuring they aren’t mistreated or mauled by paparazzi, fans, or worse yet, C-Listers.
Publicists and handlers can’t always protect their celebrity, and that’s where a bodyguard comes in. They take their job 100% seriously, and with good reason. Celebrities deal with crazed fans, paparazzi, and, sometimes, certified stalkers, and a fantastic security detail sometimes makes the difference between life and death (hello, have you seen The Bodyguard?).
The Glam Squad
Celebrities are expected to look aspirational on the daily. This means dressing in off-the-runway outfits and never showing up to an event wearing the same thing as another A-Lister. Stylists make that happen — and then some. Part of the job is upholding whatever image the publicist has decided the celebrity should embody, so you’ll never see a girl-next-door type wearing hooker heels on the red carpet (or anywhere else, hopefully).
Playing personal trainer to a celebrity is a coveted position — how else could you get paid to yell at a famous person while drawing attention to their problem areas? But unfortunately for the budding ingénue, the profession is so competitive that you’d probably have a better chance of becoming a celebrity yourself. It’s not all fun and shame, anyway: trainers are expected to achieve unrealistic results and to be flexible — visiting a star’s home rather than dragging them to the gym for public embarrassment is the type of thing a celeb pays big bucks for.
What therapy and a yoga class can’t fix, a lawyer usually can — and the more discreet they are, the better. Their reputations depend on it: business largely comes from referrals, or a willingness to represent some very guilty clients. A celebrity lawyer won’t flinch when standing next to a star who’s already been convicted by the public — they’ll either deny their client’s guilt, or they’ll do their best to convince a jury that the celebrity is actually the victim. Spin is their specialty, and they have an arsenal of expert witnesses who will corroborate their defense…just in case.
When all else fails, celebrities turn to the person who operates outside the sphere of their entourage — the confidante. This person is an A-Lister’s go-to when they need to make something (or someone) disappear. The confidante/celebrity relationship costs a pretty penny, but it’s one of complete confidence and it’s worth the price tag if you value getting sleep at night. Most A-Listers do.
Stephanie Georgopulos is the Entertainment Content Producer for Studio@Gawker.