Most people will never get a chance to work for a celebrity. We might attend their concerts and see their faces on JumboTrons from the nosebleed section. If we’re lucky, we might snap a candid photo of them at a favorite eatery or club. But for Daniel Orrison ’09, the prospect of working in close contact with a bonafide celebrity became a very real possibility in his attempt to become a personal assistant for hip-hop mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
VH1’s reality TV show “I Want to Work for Diddy 2” features 11 contestants competing to win a chance to be Diddy’s next assistant. For Orrison, it seemed highly unlikely that he would ever be sitting in front of Diddy, especially when he did not take the job opening seriously.
“Hearing about the show was a huge joke,” he said. “I was studying for finals and looking for jobs. As a joke, my mom sent me an e-mail about it and told me to apply. Nothing came from it until four months later when they asked me to come in for interviews. I got further along until they asked me if I could come to New York.”
Orrison’s friend from William and Mary, Sammy Hamididdin ’09, received news from Orrison that he was going to be on the show.
“Dan called me and told me that he wouldn’t be in contact with me for about a month or so once they started production,” Hamididdin said. “It seemed pretty intense, but entertaining. I was happy for him because I knew that he wanted to be in the entertainment industry.”
On his first night in New York, Orrison and the other contestants had to sleep outside on a garage rooftop in sleeping bags.
“I was personally kind of excited,” he said. “It wasn’t a big deal, but I wanted to see [what] the other people were made of. It was freezing cold, but we were being tested.”
Spending the night on a cold rooftop was one of many outrageous experiences that he and the other contestants had to endure while on the show.
“It was an out-of-body experience,” he said. “Our cell phones were taken away. At first it was like, ‘Wow, I’m really doing this.’ After a while, it became real. It was crazy to watch it unfold.”
Diddy has been known to add shock value to an already tense situation, as seen in his other reality show “Making the Band.” He has a short temper and always keeps viewers guessing. Ridiculous tasks, verbal altercations that sometimes end in fist-fights, 3 a.m. wake-up calls and surprise visits become commonplace.
After meeting Diddy for the first time, Orrison explained that Diddy’s personality contrasts drastically with how he is portrayed on television.
“Meeting him was so much different than hearing about him,” he said. “There are two sides to Diddy: the mogul and the family man. I got to talk to him on an individual level, and it became different once we started talking. There is an energy that comes from him, and he expects so much of himself and others. It’s been a really amazing opportunity just being in his company.”
With his hand, foot and possibly his whole body in every facet of the entertainment industry, Diddy’s career is noteworthy, if not monumental. He has built his empire with singles, numerous name adjustments, philanthropic activities, a clothing line, a restaurant and shares in Ciroc Vodka. He even came up with his own catchphrase, “bitchassness,” and turned a profit.
While learning about Diddy’s successful business ventures, Orrison took advantage of the competition to prove that he was well qualified for the position.
“The more I started to think about it, Diddy has his hands in every part of the industry,” he said. “Coming out of college into the entertainment industry, I thought this would be a learning experience, a unique opportunity that I could personally benefit from.”
Hamididdin, who has been watching the show every week, believes Orrison is a great candidate for the position of Diddy’s assistant, recalling his friend’s hardworking, enjoyable personality at the College.
“I think Diddy sees a lot of potential in Dan,” Hamididdin said. “He has such an intense work ethic, which I believe comes from his time at West Point Academy before he transferred to William and Mary. He is able to channel this energy and he’s a natural for being in front of people. He’s done a great job on the show.”
His positive attitude has made him a strong competitor and he is one of the final five contestants. Surviving Diddy’s demanding tasks, as well as the cutthroat attitudes and confrontations from the other contestants, Orrison said he firmly believes that his experiences and education from the College have come in handy on the show.
“The lessons I have learned, the ideas of tradition and representation — it means something,” he said. “I took that with me, and I felt like I was representing something larger than myself, representing my school and family. How intense William and Mary was, the academics, it definitely transferred to my success on the show.”
“I Want to Work for Diddy 2” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on VH1.