But He Plays One on TV

Meetings and exhibitions industry veteran — and actor — Mike Lyons, on how life does not imitate art.

LyonsHOC1When I interviewed meetings and exhibitions industry vet Mike Lyons about his side gig as a professional actor two years ago, he told me that his two jobs tend to complement one another — so when he’s acting in a role as a business professional, “it has been easier for me to do that because that is what I do in my real job”; and likewise he’s “able to apply some of the techniques that I’ve acquired as an actor over these past 20 years” to his day job. So when I learned that Mike turned up as a U.S. senator in the most recent season of “House of Cards,” Netflix’s addictive political melodrama, I was intrigued. How had the meetings industry prepared him for Capitol Hill?

In his big scene, Mike is part of a Senate committee that’s holding a confirmation hearing for First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), whom her husband, President Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), has nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. It’s not the friendliest proceeding, and in the photo above you can see Mike doing his part to project an air of frosty disapproval. How did the meetings industry help prepare him for this? Was he imagining a hostile exhibitor advisory panel? Maybe channeling a plenary session gone bad? Or picturing your everyday board finance committee meeting?

Nope. “Have to admit that my experience in our industry did not influence my performance,” Mike tells me. “On the contrary, as opposed to the nice demeanor all of us in our F2F industry try to project, in this case I was a stern and serious senator.”

Hmmm. Maybe playing a politician isn’t so much of a stretch for him at all.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.