If you ever get the chance ask Rhys Livesy what it’s like to be John Barrowman’s PA. He’ll say, “somewhere is a nuclear power plant that makes Barrowmans. It’s a real job to keep up with John” Executive PA Magazine meets the man who keeps the busy actor/singer’s life on track
It’s not hard to imagine what a difficult job that might be. Apart from playing Captain Jack Harkness in Dr Who and spin-off Torchwood, he’s hosted and acted as judge on shows ranging from I’d Do Anything, Any Dream Will Do and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? And that’s all on top of his singing and touring career – his 2007 solo album Another Side went gold, his latest self-titled album is presently in the Top 20 charts and he’s currently touring the UK – as well as his theatre career, his last role being a diva and drag queen in La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre in London. And to top it all of he’s just landed a guest role on the hit TV series Desperate Housewives. We’re guessing that Rhys’ role as John’s PA is anything but mundane.
It’s obvious that it’s Rhys who helps hold together this frenetic career and lifestyle. When John was interviewed for the Times newspaper, in its Significant Others slot, Rhys got a mention alongside the actor’s partner and family. John said, “When I hired Rhys, he asked what his job description was and I said, “For you to be two steps ahead of me and know exactly what I want.” It sounds tough, but he is great and makes sure the bills are paid and I don’t forget birthdays.”
So now Rhys reveals what life is like from his side of the desk.
How did you get the job?
Through being in the right place at the right time. My partner works at the BBC and was doing behind-the-scenes filming with John. They got talking about how John was looking for a PA and I applied for the post. Until that point I had never worked as a PA but I had done a range of jobs that gave me enough experience. I’ve been working for him for over two years now.
So what training have you done or are your skills based on experience?
I’ve done a wide range of jobs including working for a bank insurance company, working with a senior accountant, being an estate agent branch manager and even setting up my own business as a handyman. All of the people I have worked with have been a big influence in my life and I’ve learned everything from people skills through to plumbing. I didn’t even need anyone to fix John’s bathroom when there was a leak because I knew how to fix it myself.
What type of relationship do you have with John?
You have to be strong to deal with him. We complement each other because I am quieter than he is. He is a high achiever in everything and I am quietly confident about what I do. I tend to absorb what he says and does and it can be tough but they key is remaining calm. He can say something that can be difficult or challenging but he never says anything unreasonable.
We get on really well. My only problem is that I never forget that I am doing my job so it’s hard to relax when your mind is full of the things you have to do when you’ve finished having a laugh. Having a laugh is all part and parcel of working with John though. There’s a photo of him in his autobiography I Am What I Am, where John has inflated a rubber glove over his head while dusting the bookstore office with a mini vacuum cleaner and that had us in complete hysterics.
To read the full interview with Rhys Livesy get the April issue of Executive PA magazine - out soon. Subscribe Now