Laura Eason: From Evanston to ‘House of Cards’

If you’re a fan of the Netflix original series “House of Cards,” you know that every episode brings a new twist or cliffhanger. One woman behind those storylines is Executive Story Editor Laura Eason, an Evanston native and Northwestern alumna. Eason was back in town Oct. 27 to discussed writing at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

After graduating from NU, Eason joined Lookingglass Theatre and was the artistic director when the company moved to the Water Tower Water Works building on Michigan Avenue. But, she later found herself drawn to New York City.

“I thought, if I want to be new and have people just view the work through the work and not sort of what they know from me and my career with Lookingglass, I’ll move to New York.”

So she did, with no real connections to reach out to. Eason made cold calls to get meetings and “slowly, slowly, slowly made connections,” she says. “I was in New York for a couple years really trying to put pieces together.”

At the same time, though, more of her plays were produced in Chicago, including two shows at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. One of those plays was “Sex With Strangers,” which Eason says is her biggest project and credits it for opening many doors, including “House of Cards.”

“[Writing for television] was something that other playwright friends did, but was not anything that I thought was something I would do. There was kind of this veil of mystery over it. ‘How do you even do that? How do you get those jobs?’”

Eason’s television agent sent “Sex With Strangers” to Beau Willimon, the showrunner of “House of Cards,” as the show was staffing for season two. It was her first interview to write for TV.

“It was a very fast entry into television and to be on a show that is so gorgeously produced and has some of the best actors on the planet, and the writers room is full of amazing writers and they’re fantastic colleagues, I can’t imagine a better entry into this world. To be on a show that people love so much and responded to so much, it’s been an incredible journey.”

However, Eason hasn’t left theater behind. She continues to write adaptations and original pieces, and is even working on her first film.

When asked if she has a favorite piece, Eason says “Sex With Strangers” has really resonated with people and has taken her all over the world. It will also be one of the most produced plays in the country next year.

“There’s so much this play has done for me,” Eason says.

She also mentions “Chapter 17” during season two of “House of Cards,” which featured the Claire interview.

“I’m really proud of how that episode came out. Being in the mix of that creative collaboration to make that episode is something that I’m really, really proud of.”

And what about season four?

“There are a lot of exciting things. That’s all I can say.”

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