Another great Assistant profile is at your service!! Faith Hill’s assistant Mandy KenKnight Sansom is a true delight to speak with.
From TOP PA to becoming an entrepreneur, new mom & wife to country star singer country star Todd Sansom, Mandy has all the ins & outs to what it takes to be an awesome assistant.
How did you become Faith Hill’s assistant & had you had any previous experience?
MKS: I did not have any previous experience. I moved to Nashville to attend college at Belmont University. Once at school, I jumped right in and got involved in a showcase the Music department was putting on. Belmont is a very hands-on school if you allow it to be.
Through this production I met the girl that was Faith’s personal assistant at that time…she had also attended Belmont and had come back to help out with the showcase.
I was pretty poor, like many college students, and eating Ramen noodles 3 meals a day…I needed a job and fast! I was working 3 jobs at the time to make ends meet. The assistant mentioned that she was working with a new artist named Faith Hill, and they needed someone to run the fan club. Having no experience in that, I said “sure”…. ha! I learned to run the fan club and did so for several years.
After another job opportunity came about for the other assistant, I was the next trusted person in line, and Faith gave me the job of being her assistant. Right place, right time…so true. I stayed with Faith and her family for 13 1/2 years.(LH side note: Wow, that’s light years in assistant time! Way to go!)
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LH: Going into a high-profile interview can be nerve racking to say the least. During your interview for Faith Hill’s assistant, were you intimidated by your future employer? Do you recommend any tips on calming those nerves for other assistants & how should they prepare for their interview?
MKS: I was fortunate enough to not know much about Faith when I interviewed with her, thus lessening the intimidation. She had only released one single at that time. Of course, there is nervousness with any job interview, but my nerves were calmed when Faith showed up to the interview with her dog, Grant. Faith was so laid back and welcoming that my nerves were calmed right away. She couldn’t have made me feel more at home.
That’s just how she is, so as far as tips to prepare for the interview….hmmm….my best tip would just be yourself and carry yourself with CONFIDENCE. That’s the quality that will shine through any nervousness.
LH: What % did you travel & what is your favorite travel tip?
MKS: I was mainly in Tennessee most of the time, but there were some fun travels that came along with the job. I learned that when traveling as an assistant, as far as what I brought for myself… less is more.
I needed to focus primarily on bringing what Faith needed and less on the extra “stuff.” You need to be put together yourself in order to represent them in a professional manner, but the job is to keep the artist happy with everything that he/she needs.
LH: When you travel, do you have a “must-have” momentum item you pick up at every place (ex.) ornament, bookmark,
coffee mug, t-shirt, etc.?
MKS: Ha…no, when traveling the focus was on getting the job done…not always a lot of time for shopping. If we could get away to a great boutique in a city, that was always something I enjoyed, but I didn’t purchase any one thing in particular.
LH: I’ve traveled quite a bit and I absolutely love Nashville! What are your 3 favorite places in Nashville (restaurants, stores, or hangouts)?
MKS: Nashville has some fantastic areas. I live in Franklin, TN, and downtown (historic) Franklin is one of my most favorite places. I also love the area near downtown Nashville called “The Gulch,” which has lots of great restaurants and shops, and a third place would be Leiper’s Fork…it’s out in the country….a quaint, simple, beautiful little town. It is where I got married, and the landscape there is heavenly.
LH: Faith Hill & Tim McGraw are known for their philanthropic work. Did you have involvement in any of their charities and what was
your role with that?
MKS: Yes, I was quite involved. Faith and Tim gave to many children’s homes and hospitals in their home states of Mississippi & Louisiana, as well as some in Tennessee. I facilitated these donations, and often got to be a part of delivering gifts to the children…. this was one of my very favorite parts of my job. The smiles on the children’s faces was so fulfilling.
LH side note: Another charity I thought was interesting is the Tug McGraw Foundation, in honor of Tim’s father. The purpose of this charity is to enhance the quality of life of children & adult with brain tumors. More info. on this foundation available at www.tugmcgraw.org.
LH: High profile assistants can do very well financially if they play their cards right and know their worth. Once you have that money, you need to remember to spend (& save) wisely. What are 3 money saving tips or advice you have used and would like to pass onto other assistants?
MKS: As with any job, you should plan for the future. It’s always nice if you have a 401k that comes along with your job, but other than that I’m not one to offer financial advice…not my area of expertise.
LH: Lastly, you have transitioned from assisting to now owning your own publishing company. Tell us how that came about and what those entails.
MKS: My husband, Todd Sansom, is an artist/singer/songwriter. I handle his bookings, co-writing appointments, publishing needs, etc. You can listen to him on iTunes! I truly believe in him as an artist and entertainer, and we decided it was time to put all of our efforts into promoting his music. I had worked for so long to promote other people’s careers, that it was time to work toward our goals now, and make OUR dreams come true.
T H A N K Y O U M A N D Y!