Photo via WJZ
Photo via WJZ

I didn’t make it to last weekend’s House of Cards casting call in Bel Air, but around a thousand other people did — some coming all the way from New York, hoping for a brush with fame. After talking with a couple of folks who did attend, I’ve come up with a few tips for anyone planning on attending the next HoC extra free-for-all — or any other casting call, for that matter:

+Bring a photo! Neither the Baltimore Sun nor our article about the casting call mentioned the need for a photo (sorry!), but they’re a standard requirement for casting calls — otherwise, how will the casting director remember your beautiful face? Luckily for the unprepared, the woman who was running the show, Kimberly Skyrme, used her own camera to take pictures of people in line. “She was the nicest lady I’ve ever dealt with,” said Howard Lohorn, who’s been to several similar casting calls in the Baltimore area.

+Show up early. “[Neighbor Thom Gahan and I] got there an hour early, and there were already a hundred people waiting,” Lohorn says. Because the crowd was (relatively) small, the two men were in and out within a couple of hours. But by the end of the day, with a thousand people waiting for their moment with the casting team, the line was moving a lot more slowly. Skyrme made sure that everyone got seen, but that’s not always the case — so show up extra-early for best results.

+Dress the part. “Thom [Gahan] was all duded up — he looked like a politician going in the door!” Lohorn says. Which, for a show about politicians, is a good thing! The more you walk in looking like the part, the easier it’ll be for the casting director to picture you in the background of the scene — and the more likely you’ll be to get a call back. That said, HoC isn’t all-government, all-the-time — last season featured episodes set in schools, barbecue joints, and small Southern towns — so if you don’t look like a typical pol, don’t rule yourself out.

+Consider your value-added items. According to Lohorn, the casting team was asking everyone what kind of car they had, and whether they had a dog, or a boat. When my brother went to a casting call for Lincoln in Richmond, Virginia, they were desperate for young men who knew how to ride horses. Consider the show in question, and what kinds of extras they might need in the background. Do you have anything that might help set the scene?

Check out the Baltimore Sun’s slideshow of the casting call here — and start getting your headshots ready for next time!