Will Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel be welcome back in Hollywood after White House exits?

The pending departures of former Hollywood publicists Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel from President Trump’s communications team were the latest signs of upheaval coming from the White House.

They may be seeking an exit from the crises of Washington to calmer experiences in the private sector — but could they return to the cutthroat world of entertainment publicity?

Friends and former associates say that people have reached out to each of them to inquire about their plans. Their tenure in a chaotic atmosphere in DC could prove to be advantageous — proof of being battle tested in the highest-profile environment, not to mention a connection to the White House. However, the polarizing nature of Trump and their close association with him could be a detriment in some circles.

Post-White House gigs haven’t always panned out: Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer is currently writing a book, “The Briefing,” but he did not land a spot as a TV pundit despite meeting with the major news networks.

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Hope Hicks out and about
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks listens as President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau host a meeting with women business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's press secretary Hope Hicks is pictured during a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump's communications director Hope Hicks (L) crosses paths with Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (R) at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. Photo taken July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (R) walk to board Marine One as US President Donald Trump departs the White House for Harrisburg, Pensylvannia, where he will hold a rally on the 100th day of his presidency on April 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Hope Hicks, White House director of strategic communications, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a 'hallmark of our democracy.' (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Hope Hicks, left center, and Kellyanne Conway, right center, attend a press briefing by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Trump campaign communications director Hope Hicks talks on her phone in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Trump campaign communications director Hope Hicks (R) stands onstage at the end of an event with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his newly selected vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, at the Hilton Midtown Hotel, July 16, 2016 in New York City. On Friday, Trump announced on Twitter that he chose Pence to be his running mate. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: (L to R) Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, and Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, look on as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House, January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday that he will reveal his 'unbelievably highly respected' pick to replace the late Supreme Court Antonin Scalia on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway depart the Blair House as he heads to a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(L-R) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller follow U.S. President Donald Trump (not seen) on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (C) and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino (L) arrive at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Hope Hicks, communication director for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is pictured following a news conference at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
(L-R) Donald Trump's White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, Senior Counselor Steve Bannon and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway arrive for the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Win McNamee/Pool
Hope Hicks, spokeswoman for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey on June 30, 2017. Hicks is travelling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to Bedminster, New Jersey to spend the weekend at his golf club. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway (L) and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks are seen on the tarmac of Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Conway and Hicks are traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon walk down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Hicks is traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway depart the Blair House as he heads to a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, incoming White House Director of Strategic Communications, walks through the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. President-elect Donald Trump won't end the onslaught of posts on Twitter that fed his unconventional campaign, even after taking on the formalized duties of the Oval Office later this month. Bloomberg: Peter Foley/Pool via Bloomberg
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (C) departs as she and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) stand on the sidelines while U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks stand on the sidelines as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks watches as US President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: The White House staff including Sarah Sanders, right, and Hope Hicks, second from right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a listening session with high school students and teachers in the State Dining Room at The White House on February 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House communications director, attends a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Trump during the meeting praised his former staff secretary, Rob Porter, for performing well in the White House and cautioned reporters to keep in mind that he has denied allegations of domestic violence. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (R) and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway listen as US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director, in the stands during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, listen as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson leads a prayer during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn (L) and Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks leave the White House October 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Cohn and Hicks are accompanying President Donald Trump to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to 'give remarks on tax reform.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey on September 15, 2017. Hicks was traveling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn arrive on the South Lawn of the White House for a memorial service for the 9/11 terrorist attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks down the stairs after US President Donald Trump disembarked from Air Force Oner at Morristown Municipal Airport on September 29, 2017 in Morristown, New Jersey, as he travels to spend the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15: (L to R) Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders walk through the lobby at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump is scheduled to have a meeting on infrastructure issues and deliver a statement to the press following the meeting. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey on June 30, 2017. Hicks is travelling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to Bedminster, New Jersey to spend the weekend at his golf club. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Hicks is traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 7: From left to right: Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk on the South Lawn of the White House on May 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is returning from a weekend trip to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: White House Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway (L), stand with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan, at the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: (L-R) White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway; Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications; and Omarosa Manigault, Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, listen during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room February 14, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer discussed on various topics including the resignation of Michael Flynn from his position as National Security Adviser. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon walk down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off Air Force One on February 6, 2017 upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Rudy Giuliani greets White House aide Hope Hicks, on the West Front of the Capitol before her boss Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, January 20, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Hope Hicks, White House director of strategic communications, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a 'hallmark of our democracy.' (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
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Hicks and Raffel are very good friends, having previously worked closely together for Matthew Hiltzik’s crisis PR firm in New York: Hicks, the White House communications director, had represented Ivanka Trump’s product line, which gave her an entree  into the Trump Organization and ultimately his presidential campaign. Her past clients included the beleaguered movie company Relativity Media.

Raffel, deputy communications director, left Hiltzik Strategies in 2015 to run PR for Blumhouse Prods. He shocked many in the industry–including his former employer Jason Blum — when he went to work for the White House in April, 2017, initially for Jared Kushner at the Office of American Innovation. Blum, who produced the Oscar-nominated “Get Out,” publicly joked to Maureen Dowd about wanting to rescue Raffel from the “cult.” Like a number of industry figures, Blum has been a prolific tweeter of anti-Trump messages.

But despite contributing to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Raffel jumped at the opportunity to work in the White House, his link being the work he did for Kushner when Kushner Companies was a Hiltzik client. When Raffel announced his departure, Ivanka Trump and assistant to the president Jason Greenblatt issued statements; chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said he was “focused and thoughtful in our day-to-day operations and in driving a policy roll-out, and he will be missed.”

A source familiar with Raffel’s thinking said that he wants to go back to New York, where he has a family obligation, and will explore opportunities from there.

“I already know a number of people who have reached out,” said a former showbiz colleague. “His job prospects are not damaged by any means. That wouldn’t be a problem.” The colleague said that Raffel had a great reputation, among journalists and executives, particularly for his work at Blumhouse, and during his White House tenure he made a point of keeping in touch with friends from the industry and kept the two worlds separate.

Hicks, too, plans to take her time to decide what to do next, a source close to her says, and she also has gotten calls from potential employers. Like Raffel, she largely shunned on-air appearances but did develop high level relationships with journalists and an ability to remain “calm in tough situations,” as a friend says. She didn’t have the same extensive experience working in entertainment as Raffel did, but her time working with Relativity put her in close contact with CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, another controversial character with eccentricities, before working for Trump. Many in the entertainment media viewed her as a publicist new to the scene, just a few years into her career, which was why her quick rise in politics was such a surprise.

Sources said that she had been talking of her departure for weeks. But she is in a different situation than Raffel and many are skeptical about the timing of her resignation. Her plans to exit were announced a day after she delivered testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in its Russia investigation, raising legal issues, and after the fallout over the scandal engulfing Rob Porter, with whom she reportedly had an affair. She had a close relationship to the president, as his longest-serving aide in the White House, a three-year tenure in which she was catapulted into the role of press secretary for his fledgling campaign at the age of 26.

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Everything you need to know about Hope Hicks
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Everything you need to know about Hope Hicks

Hicks and her sister, Mary Grace, were successful teen models. Hicks posed for Ralph Lauren and appeared on the cover of "It Girl," a spin-off of the best-selling "Gossip Girl" book and TV series.

Hicks and her sister, Mary Grace, were successful teen models. Hicks posed for Ralph Lauren and appeared on the cover of "It Girl," a spin-off of the best-selling "Gossip Girl" book and TV series.

Hicks met patriarch Trump and quickly "earned his trust," Ivanka Trump told The New York Times for a June 2016 profile on the spokeswoman.

In January 2015, Trump called Hicks into his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower and told her she was joining his presidential campaign. "I think it’s 'the year of the outsider.' It helps to have people with outsider perspective," Hicks said Trump told her.

Hicks didn't have any political experience, but her public-relations roots run deep. Both grandfathers worked in PR, and her father, Paul, was the NFL's executive vice president for communications and public relations. He was also a town selectman from 1987 to 1991. Greenwich proclaimed April 23, 2016, as Paul B. Hicks III Day.

Hicks started working on what would become Trump's campaign five months before Trump announced his presidency, after he famously rode a golden escalator down to the lobby of his tower on June 16, 2015.

That makes Hicks the campaign staffer who has persisted in Trump's inner circle the longest. She outlasted his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and several senior advisers.

People close to her describe Hicks as a friendly, loyal fighter. Trump has called her a "natural" and "outstanding."

While reporters who have worked with Hicks say she's polite, they have expressed frustration that she was often unreachable on the campaign trail, not responding to requests for comment, or denying access to the candidate.

She said her mom, Caye, told her to write a book about her experience with Trump, like "Primary Colors," the fictional novel depicting President Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. "You don't even know," she said she told her mother.

During the campaign, Hicks spent most of her days fielding reporters' requests and questions — even reportedly taking dictation from Trump to post his tweets.

During the campaign, Hicks stayed in a free apartment in a Trump building, though she'd often go home to her parents' house in Connecticut when she could.

These days she's in DC. Trump named her his assistant to the president and director of strategic communications in December.

She still flies below the radar, directing the spotlight back on Trump. The then president-elect called her up to the microphone to speak at a "Thank You" rally in December.

It's been said she can act as a sort of Trump whisperer, understanding his many moods and professionally executing what needs to be done. She still only calls him "Sir" or "Mr. Trump."

"If the acting thing doesn’t work out, I could really see myself in politics," Hicks told Greenwich Magazine when she was 13. "Who knows."

In June, the White House released salary info for 377 top staffers. Hicks gets paid the maximum amount that any of Trump's aides receive: $179,700.

Hicks is making as much as Trump's former chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, former press secretary Sean Spicer, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, policy adviser Stephen Miller, and communications official Omarosa Manigault.

Some family members and friends have expressed concern that Hicks is so closely tied to a president whose policies and statements are unpopular with a significant number of Americans, but are confident that she'll come through unscathed.

"There is just no way that a camera or an episode or a documentary could capture what has gone on. There is nothing like it," Hicks told Marie Claire in June 2016. "It is the most unbelievable, awe-inspiring thing."

In August, Trump asked Hicks to be the new interim White House director of communications, a job that Michael Dubke, Sean Spicer, and Anthony Scaramucci held and left in Trump's first six months in office. The White House will announce who will serve in the job permanently "at the appropriate time."

The 28-year-old Hicks is the youngest communications director in history.

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But those ties and loyalty to Trump, which left her closer than others in his orbit, could prove problematic if she chose to pursue something in entertainment, as a number of other White House staffers have done in previous administrations. “It definitely makes it difficult,” said one top industry executive, citing the negative view in Hollywood toward Trump. “I think she will have a lot of options. I just don’t think that it will be at a movie studio.”

The executive said that there would likely be interest from publishers in a tell-all book from Hicks, judging by the blockbuster success of “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” or even offers of a TV gig, or even another gig with a high-profile CEO. Trump himself said, on her departure, “I am sure we will work together again in the future.”

Hicks, who modeled in her teens, has avoided any appearances as a talking head for the campaign or the administration. One of the few times was at a late 2016 Trump rally, where she gave only brief remarks. That lack of public visibility actually may end up helping her transition to the next thing. Whatever that is, it’s hard to see how that will be the same route taken by her two predecessors.

After his exit, Anthony Scaramucci quickly appeared on talk shows and expanded his Twitter presence; Spicer did a self-deprecating cameos on last year’s Emmys.

 

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