“All organisations run because of good teams and people in support roles are a major part of those teams. The job is always varied, so PAs have to be able to anticipate as well as react and personal PAs have to do so on an emotional and professional level.”
This is just some of the advice Hamish Jenkinson, (pictured) EA to actor Kevin Spacey, relayed to visitors at the recent Office show during an interview conducted by Mike Caridia, President of pa-assist.com. Hamish also had a lot to say about his career and gave more good advice to fellow PAs.
Hamish started off as a PA when he was working as a tea boy in commercial productions and was given an interview to be film director Guy Ritchie’s personal assistant. From there, Guy’s wife, singer Madonna, hired him because, as he explained, he wasn’t making enough money with Guy. Eventually, he took a risk and quit his PA job to direct a music video, for which he won the award for Best Video at the Urban Music Awards in 2005.
Next, he was recommended for the job of EA to Kevin Spacey, with whom he has been working for eight years. Kevin moved to London to take over as director of the Old Vic theatre. Through his job, Hamish has been appointed Director of the Old Vic’s new spaces in the tunnels beneath Waterloo train station, trustee of the Kevin Spacey Foundation and chairman of Free the Children UK.
So with all this experience, what other advice does Hamish have for PAs of all types?
He said Kevin appreciates when he schedules him time off from work. “Sometimes you need to have that person who tells you when you’re working too much, otherwise you’ll end up a workaholic with no personal time,” Hamish added, noting that he doesn’t have a PA, so he always ends up being that workaholic. All bosses have a tendency to spend too much time on the job, so he recommends PAs consider down time for their executives.
When asked by an audience member if he thought being a male PA had any negative effects on his role in a female-dominated sector, he replied honestly, “I don’t consider myself as a male PA.” He thinks it being a predominantly female profession shouldn’t be an obstacle or a hindrance to men.
Hamish hopes his future will hold good things for him. He is in the process of setting up a company that represents pop-up experiences to help source venues and get more projects going. He hasn’t given up on his directorial dreams and hopes that the contacts he is gathering through his high-profile work will eventually get him to where he wants to be.
“Your career is not a sprint,” he ended with a laugh, “it’s a marathon.”