Ron Tom/ABC
Sandra Gonzalez
October 10, 2013 AT 12:00 PM EDT

My only instruction going into my day as an extra on ABC’s Scandal was to make my best attempt at dressing like a member of the White House press corps. Having worked on Capitol Hill for a summer about six years ago, I didn’t stress too much about the instruction . I got this, I thought.

That is, until I looked at my closet the day I was scheduled to report to set and realized that in the course of my many moves since leaving D.C., I had purged all remnants of my ill-fitting Ann Taylor Loft business attire and replaced the items with a wardrobe more fitting of an entertainment reporter. In other words, one look into my closet had me exclaiming, “Where are all my adult clothes?!”

I settled on a dress that had polka dot blouse and a leather pencil skirt — I’m pretty sure I bought it from Zara and forgot existed. Once I got to set, I was told what I probably knew already: my look was too hot for the White House. Luckily, costume designer Lyn Paolo has an arsenal of beautiful, sophisticated clothes, and in one quick swoop, she made me press corps-ready with a tweed skirt (which I placed over mine) and a low heel. Full disclosure: I loved the skirt, but the heels were about 4 inches shorter than what I am I used to wearing. The picture you see above, in which I’m on the far right, briefly horrified me. “This is what happens when I don’t wear my shoes! I look like a hobbit,” I told my sister. (At the time, though, I was so excited, I didn’t give the shoes much thought.)

Once dressed, we were given a once-over by the hair and makeup department. Luckily (or unfortunately?), my face is 95 percent man-made materials on a “natural” day, so all I needed was a little lip balm. Then, we were off to set.

I can’t say much about the scene, mostly because I’m afraid of being shot by snipers. But it involved a press conference with President Fitzgerald (Tony Goldwyn). Despite having been on many sets in my years covering entertainment, it never fails to amaze me how actors get in and out of character so quickly. Goldwyn’s performance in this scene was intense as you might imagine, but the moment the camera stopped rolling, he was his normal charming self.

It took about five hours from wardrobe-to-wrap for us — I was there with three other real-life reporters — to film what will likely be a 60-second scene. You may frequently hear about the work that goes into making TV shows, but I can tell you it’s all true. There are so many moving parts, things to do, and people to wrangle, I don’t envy those who do it every day. Of course, if you were to ask them, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be. And that’s the beauty of it.

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