If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I spent Saturday standing in line in Bel-Air, Maryland answering a “House of Cards” open casting call for extras of all ages, shapes, sizes, and types. I first heard about the opportunity on Facebook from the DCist, and reposted it asking my friends if anyone wanted to go with me, even though I’ve never seen the show.
Truth: I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously because I wasn’t being serious myself.
But after a few local (and not-so-local) friends expressed interest, I got a flash of inspiration (yea!) and decided that I would go and actually do it, and I would live-tweet it, too. So I made plans with my friend Sarah, and we decided to answer the call.
Now, those of you who have followed this blog for awhile may remember that back in the day, back in high school, I was a bit of a drama rat. Not only was I active in the drama/theater program at my high school, but I earned state-level awards for my talents, and worked as a paid actor in Cincinnati in more than a few productions. I sang. I danced. I mimed. I could improv with the best of them. I also worked as an extra on movies filmed in the area, and made dozens of appearances on local television.
If we want to get specific (we don’t), this was all more than 15 years ago since I stopped doing all of that upon high school graduation. It feels much longer than that. A whole lifetime ago, really.
Nevertheless, I knew that Sarah and I could totally rock out the experience, so the day before, we worked together getting our headshots, resumes, and outfits ready for the event. I created a Twitter hashtag (#julierocksthehouse) and Martin agreed to drive us up to Bel-Air (north of Baltimore) with the kids.
The next morning, we put on our best “DC professional” faces and we went for it.
And by going for it, we actually stood in line for 3.5 hours in the warm, summer sun with hundreds (maybe more than a thousand?) of other hopefuls. I expected there to be a large turn-out, but as we drove up to the location, we could see the line wrap around several city blocks.
I admit, I briefly thought, Eh. Maybe we should, you know, do something else this beautiful Saturday afternoon??
But I figured Sarah and I had already done too much, we had come too far! So we climbed out of Amelia the Minivan, straightened our jackets, adjusted the pins on our lapels, and stood in line to convince those casting agents we could totally pass for DC professionals.
It was so amusing.
There were young ladies in suits and flip-flops.
There were young men with slicked-back hair and suspenders.
There were those who looked a little disheveled and overwhelmed as if they’d never done this before, armed with blurry selfie photos and hand-written resumes.
There were groups of people who brought drinks and lawn chairs.
There were those who appeared calm and cool, armed with professional headshots and sparkling resumes, as if they did casting calls on a regular basis as a form of employment. Like the lady directly behind us — a gorgeous, older woman dressed to the nines. She was a regular extra on the set of “West Wing” and some movies, such as “Runaway Bride.” She took a 10-year break, and then decided on a whim to go for it this weekend.
There were hard-core fans of the show who spent those hours dissecting every character and plot line from the previous seasons.
There were those who never watched the show, but could tell you everything they learned via their Internet research the day before. *ahem*
While I’m sure several people there were really hanging onto the belief that this would be their big break into Hollywood, the vast majority of people around us seemed to share the idea that this was something fun and random to do on a summer weekend.
Something new. Something out of the ordinary. Because why not?
Sarah and I spent the time taking photos, texting our families (Martin and the kids were at a nearby Chick-Fil-A playing on the indoor playground), calculating the chances of us actually getting a call-back, figuring out what we would do if we *did* get called back, trying not to sweat, and having a good time just hanging out with each other.
When we finally got to the door, we were greeted with a big, green confidentiality agreement, so I can’t share with you the details of what happened once we went inside to speak with the casting panel.
But I will tell you MY acting secret: I’m definitely a method actor.
I like to completely become the character. I need to be totally immersed into the world of my character, to think and behave, to dress and talk, and feel emotions just as that character would think and behave.
These casting agents wanted a DC professional, someone with powerful aspirations, driven by a sense of patriotism and responsibility. Someone who works in the high-stress, fast-paced political environment of the nation’s capital. Who attends important political events, and socializes with very important people on a regular basis. Someone who blends into such a crowd and quietly does their work in the background, too.
All I’ll say is that I think I got this character down pat.