It's been a few days since the end of the first RTX London and it has given me time to reflect how fortunate I have been to be involved in something special. It was certainly a first for a lot of things. A first RTX London, my first time as Guardian and a first time as a PA.
Needless to say it was daunting at first, not having any experience either being a Guardian or as a PA, since I didn't know what to expect. What I did learn is that there is no shame in asking for help from those more experience. It's not a competition to look better than other Guardians or PA's. All the Guardians are working together to make the show run as smoothly for attendees and staff. I was fortunate enough that the veteran PA's and Guardians I was able to speak with were able to advise and give suggestions on how best to prepare.
So what is being a PA Guardian like?
- First & foremost, professional and there to serve the needs of your assigned guest. One of the reasons you are chosen to be a PA is to not be an excitable fanboy/fangirl in front of them. By all means try to be relaxed, but do not go pitching ideas or go asking them photos or signatures, whilst on duty. You are there to make friends with your guest, you are to work for them.
- the keeper of your guest's schedule. This means communicating with your guest (especially if their schedule is packed solid) and keeping track of where they need to be now or next, to ensure that your guest arrives in good time.
- your guest's navigator around the convention centre. You may need to scout the most efficient routes around the convention centre and that might change depending on the time of day you need to transport your guest around.
- not always a lone wolf. You are a member of a team and at times you will need to work with other PA's. This is especially the case if your guest is sharing a panel or signing with other guests and they will be all traveling to the same place together. You may also need to speak with you team lead or team coordinator to make extra arrangements (e.g. notifying of seat reservation requests at other panels by your guest).
- the bearer of bad news for attendees. Sometimes you will need to politely tell attendees that your guest needs to get to a panel or a signing so they cannot get that impromptu photo or autograph the attendee has been waiting patiently for. Sadly you have to look at the bigger picture at times, meaning it's better to disappoint a few opportunistic attendees for the sake of not delaying the start of panel for a thousand people. It can be stressful dealing with so many attendees, but you will need to use your best judgement and remember to be honest with them.
- a liaison with other Guardian Teams such as the Panel/Tech teams, Signatures Team, Expo Hall Team, ensuring you respect their needs (e.g. turning up early enough to a panel room/center stage for tech tests).
- an extra pair of hands and an extra set of pockets. Hopefully you will have spoken with your guest about their needs before the convention starts so you'll be ready to hold items they require whilst out and about on the convention floor (e.g. Hand Sanitiser, Sharpies etc.) or hold onto gifts given to your guest by attendees.
- there when your guest needs you. This might mean there are times you (and other PA's) are waiting outside the Green Room so you can found easily and quickly should your guest have a question or ad-hoc request.
- working to your guest's hours, not that of the convention. Your guest might need you accompany them to after hours events (e.g. VIP Party), so be prepared pull an extra shift at short notice. Similarly, your guest might not arrive/leave the convention centre at the same time as other guests, so again you will need to make alternative arrangements or adapt to your guest's preferences.
- there to help in other ways if needed. Your guest might say you are no longer needed for the rest of the day if they are done with their commitments. Be prepare to be temporarily re-assigned to another team might requires extra assistance.
- in a privileged position. Being a PA Guardian is a sought after position due to close proximity of RT talent. Remember to be modest (i.e. only tell other Guardians you're a PA if asked which team you are in) and to act proper in front of other guests, not just your own.
Would I be a Guardian again?
In a heartbeat. It's tiring, hard work and at times quite stressful, but being able to do your best for your guest and the attendees as well as the experiencing the camaraderie with your team is so amazingly worthwhile and satisfying. Even now, almost a week since the end of the first RTX London, I still feel enormous pride to have been part of something that required such a huge collective effort to pull off. My hope is that RT see it fit have another RTX London and that I can continue to be a Guardian and a part of the convention's growth in the near future, whether it be as a PA or not.
Special Thanks to:
The PA Team - It has been the greatest privilege to work with such a talented bunch of people, who have shown me an enormous amount of patience and kindness. I’ve learned for much from all of you and I hope to work all of you wonderful people again soon!
Our PA team lead and coordinator - Dan and Becca, our jobs would have been undoubtedly been more difficult had it not been for expert problem solving and clear instructions. For that I am extremely grateful.
Chad and the rest of the RT Talent - We are humbled that you all were able to come visit the island we call home. To have been given the responsibility to serve Chad has been an incredible and unforgettable honour. We hope that your time in the UK and at RTX London was as good as it could be.
The RT Events team - Thank you for your efforts and persistence in bringing RTX to the thousands of fans here in the UK and beyond. I hope that the RT Community in this part of the world has convinced you that a RTX event has a long and prosperous future here in London.
Eli, Jason and all the Team Leads - Your calm heads and astute direction were the reason the show was able run and adapt as smoothly as it did. You all did a fantastic job worthy of so much praise and more! Also thank you for the faith you placed in the Guardians you selected. I hope we were able to do you all proud.
Mary, Chris and Dan - Thank you for gracing the first RTX in London with your invaluable wisdom, experience and support! There are few who match your strength and presence in this wonderful community RT have created!
Shelby and Jackie - In my anxiety and worry, I reached out for PA Guardian advice and you both gifted me with such useful and indispensable information. You have no idea how much of a foundation your reassuring words provided for this first timer. I tip my hat to you two!
All of the RTX London Guardians - It was wonderful meet many of you, whether we got to chat, shared some humorous quips or exchanged a celebratory high five outside the Green Room. Please congratulate yourselves on a job well done!
Huggy, Jamie, Emma, Nai, Phoebe & Meghan - Thanks for helping me unwind during our stay at the AirBnB and for putting up with my various states of tiredness, crankiness, delirium, silliness and nervousness.
And last, but not least, my wonderful girlfriend, Kristina - Your thoughtful & heartfelt messages of love and support helped give me the energy to do best I could. I am so lucky to have you and your love in my life.