Ron on the job
What would it be like to work as a celebrity bodyguard? Scary? Exciting? Filled with hate mail and weirdos and death threats? Ron Eastman has been guarding celebrities for more than a decade and today he’s sharing his fascinating story.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Ronald D. Eastman II (but you can call me Ron); I am 47 years old and was born in Los Angeles, Calif. and raised in Pasadena, Calif. I am the owner and CEO of Eastman Protective Agency and the author of Return To Your Senses: Save Yourself Before Technology Kills You.
Though my job requires that I travel approximately nine months out of the year, I live in Atlanta with my wife, Sonhara and my two dogs.I enjoy reading books of all sorts, and when time permits, nothing is more enjoyable then sitting around a campfire with friends.
How did you get into working as a bodyguard?
After serving in the United States Army for 12 years, I joined an executive protection firm in Los Angeles. After that, I became president of Tyler Perry Inc., where I managed the non-production affairs of the entertainment mogul.
What sort of training or education did you go through?
Much of my training was in the Army. I cross-trained with soldiers all over the world and received specialized training in hostage rescue, reconnaissance, treatment of trauma patients, logistics, and military combative techniques. I trained foreign military units from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, and the Middle East.
Did you specifically intend to work with celebrities or did that aspect of your work just sort of…happen?
I’d planned to use the skills I’d developed in the military to become a police officer. I also wanted to work at a military school to help troubled and defiant boys. Not able to land a job at either, I was hired as a bodyguard for a preeminent executive protection firm. For the next nine years, I traveled on assignments protecting celebrities and learned how often criminals and unstable people attempt to attack public figures and their families.
How is guarding a celebrity different than other security jobs?
Protecting celebrities requires intensive logistical planning because they are universally recognizable.
Most security jobs require you to look after merchandise, buildings, control access, etc. Protecting an individual on a daily basis, anywhere in the world, requires stamina, discipline, focus and the ability to remain free from distractions – an assault can occur at any moment.
Some celebrity clients may have a false sense of security because of their fame and the amount of love received from fans. Guarding celebrities require you to understand inappropriate human behavior and how to manage a client’s fear, something you will never have to do in other security jobs.
When you start working with a new client, what are the things you consider when thinking about how to keep them safe?
First, I consider what type of character they play on screen. If they often play the villain, I formulate my plan knowing the client has the potential to draw a hostile following.
Then, I consider their wealth. The greater the fortune, the higher the risk for kidnapping, extortion, etc.
Then study their fan base. Young or old? Rich or poor? Female or male? Logistically, I study each location that the client will spend time in. Where are security exits? Will there be a crowd in proximity?
Whether we’re in a restaurant, hospital or hotel, I consider the timeframe needed and speak to management in advance about our “special needs” for privacy and professional protocol.
Movie sets require huge amounts of preparation because the client changes location so many times – car, makeup trailer, catering, live set, restaurant, hotel, nightclub, clothing stores, meetings, or a movie theatre.
For places with large, elevated crowds, I have someone above observing it all and reporting anything out of the ordinary to the team on the ground.
Which celebrities have you worked with, and how did you get those jobs?
I have protected numerous A-list actors and other entertainers, CEOs, and government officials. The majority of my business is earned through clientele referrals and word of mouth. I have a strict policy not to divulge my clientele and I always ensure a confidentiality agreement is in place prior to beginning any assignment for their protection.
I’m sure you have tons of crazy stories! Could you share one of your favorites?
For an awards ceremony honoring a client, I brought four agents with me, sensing there could be trouble. Sure enough, a few audience members with opposing views attempted to jump the stage in unison and come straight for my client.
Though my client was arguably three times my size, I picked him up and made my way past the offenders. During the extraction, I felt the sharp point of a pencil stabbing me in my side and hot coffee hitting my skin. The scene was mayhem, but my client had been extracted safely.
As a result of that evening, my client was naturally on edge. He’d received death threats and scores of hate mail. Hackers had even scrambled his website. Pursuers can be relentless, and this client seemed to be a magnet for the cream of the crop.
One day, I received a call in California from this panic-stricken client in a McDonald’s drive-thru in Texas. He was convinced that he was being followed. I could hear the fear in his voice though I had to remain calm. All high-profile artists that create art with a political slant have fans and they have enemies.
I told him drive to the police station and if the driver in question continued to follow, to walk into the station and alert them. I talked him through the process and even used humor to relax him a little. The situation was much ado about nothing, but I always take my client’s fears seriously..
What are some things any of us can do to be safer in our daily lives?
We must return to our senses! This means unplugging the headphones and listening to our environment. Look at your surroundings instead of burying your face into your handheld device or computers.
Take a moment to observe human behavior in person instead of on television and movies. We need to stop flaunting our riches—particularly in foreign countries where we’re not as familiar with the culture, language or laws.
Finally, we trust and follow our intuition more when it comes to decisions related to not only safety, but also our health, career and relationships.
Thanks so much for sharing your story and insights, Ron! Do you guys have any questions for him?
P.S. Two more adrenaline-filled interviews: True Story: I was robbed at gunpoint + True Story: I witnessed a shooting