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The dos and don’ts of working backstage with celebrities

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Working with celebrities can be a minefield if you’re not prepared, so check out our do’s and don’ts and keep your head cool.

If you’ve had experience of working with the stars, be that in the music, film or on stage, then you will know there is a certain etiquette to adhere to.

This doesn’t mean you have to stand on ceremony and bend over backwards to their every whim. But there are certain expectations and unwritten rules which are essential that you know.

If it’s your first time looking after an A-lister, or in a supporting role on a show or film set and have no clue what’s ok and what’s not, then these tips might come in handy for you.

What not to do:

Fangirl/fanboy

This may sound obvious, but some people have been known to get a little too excited and carried away with everything.

If you’re in a position where you’re meeting someone you look up to or have even idolised for years, it’s never a great idea to go overboard with your attention.

People who have spent their lives in the spotlight just want to be able to get on with their jobs and would prefer not to have to deal with over-enthusiastic employees too!

Pester for selfies

Often headlining performers will have difficulty getting in and out of a building, location, or offstage because of hoards of eager fans scrambling to take a picture with them.

Make sure this is not you too.

Most of the time, using your phone in a show/stage/filming area is not permitted anyway, so jostling to then snap a selfie will be even more frowned upon.

The same goes for the backstage/ dressing room area, as the artists are either preparing to go on or unwinding after coming off and are unlikely to appreciate having a phone waved at them!

Keep talking

This really is a key one, and again it may be stating the obvious, but sometimes a situation can be difficult to read, so it’s best to keep the chat in check.

Some artists may love a good chinwag and appreciate the support as it may help them to keep calm, relax or remind them they’re ‘one of us’.

However, it is imperative you gauge this carefully, as more often than not, performers are getting into ‘the zone’ and prepping themselves for a show or for the cameras. They might actually prefer the talking is kept to a minimum.

The more you work with celebrities the more you will be able to gauge when it’s the right time to chat and when it’s best to keep it under wraps. At the end of the day, everyone is there to do a job so it is about being professional.

What to Do:

Give them space

Again if you haven’t had much experience working with the stars, then this one can at times be difficult to quantify- especially if you’re involved in quick changes and costume backstage.

A lot of it comes down to common sense and being able to judge if you are over fussing rather than supporting.

It can take a little getting used to, but knowing when to pass them a towel, hand them a drink of water etc. and when is appropriate to enter their dressing area, really does go a long way.

It may seem like going above and beyond, but tuning in to their moods, tone of voice, attitude and behaviour will really help you with knowing how to proceed. General ‘being a human’ stuff really.

Keep things confidential

It might go without saying, but this is extremely important and a crucial part of the job.

If you’re working closely with someone – particularly for a length of time – and you have gained their trust and established a relationship with them, they may open up to you and reveal personal information.

It’s critical you don’t then go sharing their confidential stories in the breakout areas – especially not if it’s a sensitive subject or private knowledge.

Out of respect for the artist, it’s not common practice to share stories about them getting ready or other things involving their backstage behaviour.

Most things are on a ‘need to know’ basis only, and you don’t want to risk damaging their reputation or you’re own!

Remain professional

Remember that no matter what you’re doing and how good the working relationship, it’s paramount you remain professional.

This is a job like any other – despite in many cases, the involvement of unusual duties and sometimes glamorous (or not so glamorous!) aspects – so it’s vital to keep that in mind.

If you have a great connection with the performer and get on like a house on fire, that’s brilliant news, but be mindful of the fact you are committed to doing a job, so don’t let your competence slip!

Overall, a lot of the ‘rules’ listed here are very much dependant on the rapport with the artist, so it’s important to use your own judgement when it comes to negotiating the working relationship.

And at the end of the day, artists are just people, each with their own fluctuating moods and temperaments. Tread carefully, remain professional and remember, the show will always go on!

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