What Does it Take to be a Celebrity Bodyguard?
Such high-paying jobs are the pinnacle of the close security industry, but these multi-faceted roles can be all consuming.
By Rachael Taylor
There are more than 14,500 Security Industry Authority-licensed operatives in the UK, and each one has the potential to carry out bodyguard duties. Jobs will vary, such as accompanying businesspeople in their day-to-day roles or guarding a wealthy family. A few will even make it to what is considered the top of the tree – close security for an A-list celebrity.
The financial rewards for such roles can be huge. Kylie Jenner reportedly spends $400,000 (£315,000) a month on her security detail, while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have appointed Los Angeles security firm Gavin de Becker Associates to protect them at an estimated cost of £7,000 a day for a team of six bodyguards.
While the rewards are enticing, such jobs can be all consuming. So, what does it take to become a celebrity bodyguard? Here are five tips from those who have done it.
Be their friend
While the primary role of a bodyguard is to protect their charge from threats as they go about their daily business, there is also a social side to the job. Due to the intense nature of the role, strong bonds can develop. While boundaries must be kept – see Kevin Costner’s The Bodyguard or Richard Madden’s Bodyguard for what not to do – this professional relationship will often soften in quieter moments, as these images of Justin Bieber playing basketball with his bodyguard show. This is why some security firms will use psychological testing before matching security personnel with a celebrity.
Keep their secrets
What celebrities prize above all is privacy; it’s the whole reason they drop hundreds of thousands of pounds on security details. As a bodyguard, you will be privy to the private lives of famous people. With tabloids ready to tempt you with cash, and interested friends all clamouring for details, it can be tough to stay silent, yet any bodyguard worth their salt must do so. If you don’t, it’s not just your job or future contracts at risk, as Kanye West’s former bodyguard Steve Stanulis is finding out. After sharing some of the rapper’s “ridiculous” rules and stories of tantrums on podcast Hollywood Raw, Stanulis is now being threatened with a $10 million lawsuit by the Wests for breaching a confidentiality agreement signed when taking on the job.
Become a famous face
When working as a close security officer, you are just that – close. So when the paparazzi flash bulbs start popping, fans whip out their cameras, or the celebs take selfies, it’s likely you’ll regularly be in the background, like Bobby Rich who guards Brooklyn Beckham or Jennifer Lawrence’s bodyguard Greg Lunz. While Stanulis shared that one of Kanye West’s rules was to “never get in his shot”, other celebrities take a more celebratory rule, like Ed Sheeran. His bodyguard Kevin Myers, known as Security Kev, has been dragged into the limelight by the singer so often that he is now a celebrity in his own right, with an Instagram following of close to 1 million, and the two have a playful public relationship, with Myers describing his job as: “Triple A rated protective security officer for a hobbit. Call me Aragorn.”
There is no doubt that being a celebrity bodyguard can be fun – you get to hang out at all the best places, meet interesting people – but at the end of the day it is a job, and an exhausting one. Being a star’s close security guard means you are always there, and so have to give up your own life to some extend in order to protect someone else’s. This can be exhausting, as Simon Newton, who has guarded stars including Michael Jackson, Rita Ora and Kendall Jenner, will tell you. “You’re constantly working all the time,” he said in an interview with The Metro. “You have to wake up before he or she wakes up. You don’t go to bed until after they’ve gone to bed, and depending on what’s on the next day, you might have to go out and have a look at places and call people. This is the biggest misconception. People don’t realise how many hours we do, and quite often you can do 16 or 17 hours a day and you don’t get a day off.”
Always, always stay alert
We have established that being a celebrity bodyguard is a complex job with many additional roles to play – friend, confidant, selfie taker, alarm clock. Despite this, it is important to remember what your core function is, and that is to protect that celebrity from all harm. You must never lose that focus, even if the celebrity is trying to divert your attention elsewhere, advises former royal bodyguard Simon Morgan, who has protected Prince Charles. “You can’t just be obsessed with the ‘I don’t want someone to take my photograph,’ because there are other threats out there,” he told Insider. “If you only fixate on that, you will take your eye off the ball in regards to physical threats.”
If you think you have got what it takes to be a body guard then our Close protection course is just for you. Learn techniques and skills, get your SIA badge and start a rewarding career. Go to: https://free2learn.org.uk/close-protection-course/ and register today!