Interview by Maria Rochelle
Darius Bradley is the founder and C.E.O. of GatekeepersAgency. GK-Agency is an Atlanta based assistant agency (staffing and recruiting) that provides personal, executive, and production assistants.
Darius shared with me an assistant story while he was working with his client Rotimi.
“In 2012 while working with my client Rotimi. Rotimi had a last minute photo shoot promoted by his publicist in LA during his meetings. He was to be out there for 2 weeks. It was during this year that we were currently seeking more TV/film opportunities with the success of “Boss” on Starz. With it being such a last minute thing (as the industry is typically like), I had to pull together a list of photographers in LA. The good thing here is that I had a strong relationship with celebrity photographer Kawai Matthews of www.Airphilosophy.com, and she did the photo shoot.”
Darius also adds “One thing I always suggest to assistants is to always build your network. Because assistants have a 3-5 year window when growth begins to happen. Clients let assistants go all the time, so you need to have relationships”
With your background as a celebrity assistant, would you share how it all began for you and what you have enjoyed about your position?
It started late 2010 when I was managing an artist, and he shared with me this R&B artist by the name of Rotimi based in Chicago who he wanted to collaborate with. So, I reached out to Rotimi on Facebook, and we spoke about it. We had a brief introduction, and he directed me to his then manager to set it up. Me and the other artist just ended our business with one another, so I emailed the manager to join their team. He got back to me, but once I sent my resume he never replied, so I took it as I didn’t have much experience. It drove me so much that I went to get the experience and landed an internship at Warner Bro Records. Seven months later, I was at my desk at Warner in mid April 2011, and I saw on Rotimi page it said looking for area reps email. I reached out to his then assistant, and she connected me to his publicist at the time. She and I spoke for close to an hour as I was running an errand for the SVP of Promotions. We set a date to meet her and Rotimi at his CBS charity performance. Then I was officially on the team May 2011. It was my dream artist to work with, so I was beyond joyed to have the opportunity. I knew he was going to be a star back in 2010.
How were you inspired to create Gatekeepers Agency?
I’m always thinking of how to inspire the next person, help the next person, and uplift the next person. So this company, which is my first, gives me that chance to help others begin a career in entertainment.
What challenges and rewards are there with being an assistant?
The reward is simply the opportunity to showcase what you can do. There are thousands of individuals that want to be in that space. Challenges come in so many forms, but one of them is living not only your life but the clients as well. I quickly adjusted to Rotimi and learned all his habits, so I can be the best person for him. It was my mission to always look out for him. Rotimi will concur on that.
You mention that assistants need to build their network, could you share a few tips on how an assistant would do that?
The assistant travels with the client. The assistant is the right or left hand person to the client, so this means majority of the contacts will come in contact with the assistant at some point. Sell your personality is what I’ll tell the experienced and aspiring assistant. I’m thriving in my career more than ever now because of it. I use what I built over those 5 years assisting Rotimi.
What are you looking for in assistants that you’ll be staffing?
I’m looking for the individuals that will be ready to sacrifice, willingness to help others become great (in turn making you valuable), and no excuse mentality. Now there are many more traits; these are the ones that pop up to mind because I embodied those traits. They’re the bedrock to who I was as the assistant and road manager. One time Rotimi in 2016 had a high school performance at 9:30am. He was already in Jersey, it’s a quick drive, and I was in Harlem where transportation will take me 2-3 hours depending on traffic. Name of the game sacrifice, and I woke up at 5am to arrive before him because that was one thing we always did to challenge each other was who can get there first. True professional in my eyes and we are very competitive which promotes nothing less of greatness.
Also, with your experience, what can future a client expect from your business for their needs and wants to be met for the assistants that they’ll hire from your agency?
Well the process is direct. Each assistant under GK-Agency will have a profile. These profiles help us identify the best places for the assistant (Personal, Executive and Production). The client will then have the opportunity to select a few to interview. Which then after that they can select the assistant they prefer, and then we handle the business end to get that assistant ready. We run this company like the white house (not like the current one however); they come prepared day 1 for the job. That is why we train them each day with the many tools and experience we have.
How do you stay motivated and encouraged to go for your passions and dreams?
It’s easy to stay motivated when I’m helping someone else. It’s a skill I developed over the years to make others become the best they can become.
Share with VEU readers three fun facts about you.
– I started my career in music at Hot 97 (Promotion department) in 2009 at 21
– My first international road managing spot date came in 2015 when Rotimi and me traveled to London and opened up for 50 Cent. I got to be on the stage in front of 15,000 fans!
– I also assisted Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire) and Saycon Sengbloh (Broadway/film/TV actress and singer).
Gatekeepers is currently recruiting in the following markets Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami