Theatre student’s internship leads to casting job with ‘House of Cards’ | Arts & Culture
At times, discovering an internship opportunity can be a daunting task. Finding the right place to get experience students desire doesn’t always come easy.
For senior theatre major Madison Junod, her internship turned into an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I walked into Dr. Karen Berman, chair of theatre department’s office during the spring semester 2012,” said Junod. “I asked if she knew of any job opportunities that I could apply for that summer. Dr. Berman had worked as a casting director in the greater Washington, D.C. area for close to a decade before moving on to teaching, so I hoped she would have some contacts.”
Berman’s connections in the industry led her student to Central Casting, a leader in casting for background actors since its inception in 1925.
“Dagmar Wittmer, an acquaintance of Dr. Berman, continuously mentioned some new project that she could use extra hands on. It was called ‘House of Cards,’” said Junod. “She offered me a position as a paid intern for the summer and without any further details hung up. I had no idea what I would be doing, where I would be living or even if the prospect was worth the travel and expenses; but my gut told me that this might be the opportunity of a lifetime, and with that, I moved to Washington, D.C.”
Her journey took off from there. After serving as an intern on the Netflix original television series for only a few weeks, the lead casting supervisor for the show announced she was leaving the show.
“When my supervisor left Central Casting as the point person, no one knew what that meant for ‘House of Cards,’” said Junod. “The interview process quickly began, but no one seemed qualified enough to come into the middle of this beast and do the job properly.”
So after two weeks of searching, it was decided that since she had kept the machine running efficiently during the interim, Junod would take over the lead casting position.
“A month before I was a brand new intern and here I was the main point person for all Maryland and D.C. casting of ‘House of Cards,’” said Junod.
After returning to school in August to finish her junior year, Junod got the phone call asking her to return for season two. Not only was she asked to return, but she was also given a promotion and would be solely in charge of Maryland and Washington, D.C. principal casting (all the actors who speak lines).
“For the second time in my life, I drove the 10 hours not sure where I would live or who I would be working with, as they had hired a completely new casting team,” said Junod.
Before season two wrapped up, she had already been asked to come back for season three, which begins filming summer 2014.
“The opportunity to work on an amazing production with this level of professionalism is something I wouldn’t trade for the world,” said Junod. “I can honestly say that I am proud of the art that we make and seeing the long hours and sometimes frustrating process come to life is more than I could have hoped for.”
But when asked what her favorite part about working on “House of Cards” is, she often thinks back to times spent sitting in the theatre helping cast the Georgia College school production of “Hamlet.”
“The building blocks I learned from Georgia College provided the foundation I needed to feel confident about making quick decisions,” said Junod “The greatest lesson, however, was one that I learned while stage-managing at school, and that was anticipation. I found myself able to run every possible scenario and planning the appropriate responses to the problems. That’s something I’m grateful Georgia College was able to teach me.”
No matter the size of the production, Junod says the joy of casting comes from making actor’s dreams come true. It seems fitting that now, being part of this hit show, has brought some of her dreams to reality.
“Madison is an exceptional student, and her excellent work as stage manager for ‘Hamlet,’ as well as her outstanding work casting and directing her scene in Directing II class, convinced me she would be a perfect fit for this opportunity,” said Berman. “She is a collaborator and a leader and has learned to communicate well as a young director and stage manager. I am so proud of her.”
Junod will bring her experiences to Milledgeville to help budding actors gain a better understanding of the industry. She will be hosting a workshop titled "Acting in the Film & Television Industry.” The workshop will be part of the Milledgeville Film Festival and takes place April 17 at 7- 9 p.m. at the campus Black Box Theatre.