You know that feeling when your kids go off to college and you really miss them, but you’re also super proud? That’s how GENERAL HOSPITAL fans are feeling about Kimberly McCullough, the actress who they watched grow up on the soap to become the brilliant Dr. Robin Scorpio-Drake. These days, the Emmy winner is finding so much success directing primetime programs that she has little time for acting. “I made my first film when I was 16 and then really began pursuing directing when I did the AFI Directing Workshop For Women in 2010,” she explained to Soaps In Depth. “I also did the Warner Bros. program and the first year of the Directors Guild’s TV Director Mentorship Program. My mentor is [LAW & ORDER: SVU director] Norberto Barba.”
With episodes of series like ONE DAY AT A TIME, THE CONNERS, THE COOL KIDS, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, ALMOST FAMILY, CAROL’S SECOND ACT, and more now under her belt, McCullough is fast becoming someone that other aspiring directors can look up to. “It’s not so much that I feel like an inspiration, because I don’t know if I’m there yet,” she said humbly. “It’s more that I feel like I’m coming up with a group of women — specifically, Latinx women.”
Recently, she began working for The CW, directing a block of episodes for THE BOLD TYPE, the most recent of which were titled “Marathon” and “Babes In Toyland.” That kind of crossboarding, or shooting multiple episodes at once, is a staple on soaps like GH. “It’s funny because when I’m being interviewed [for a job], I’m often told, ‘Oh, we don’t have a big budget’ or ‘Our schedule’s crazy – we shoot really fast,’” McCullough revealed. “I always politely look at them, and I’m like, ‘Mmhmm. Cool! Soap operas shoot 160 pages a day. Like, I got it… I know tricks to get things done quickly.’”
In her most recent episode, the show’s three main characters wound up going to a sex club for the first time, which meant that McCullough had the added challenges of working with numerous extras and creating a unique atmosphere. But what about the scintillating subject matter itself? “More than being comfortable with it,” the television veteran offered, “I was excited to be in a position as a woman to be dealing with sensual matters because I feel that I’m finally in a position where I can protect the women that I’m working with.”
McCullough has also directed the upcoming fifth episode of this season’s ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, which stars former GH castmate Nathan Dean Parsons (ex-Ethan). “It was like hanging out with an old friend,” McCullough smiled.“But he was also super respectful about my choices and my position there. And he’s just lovely.”
Shooting a sci-fi drama meant having the opportunity to stretch her imagination and leave her stamp on the show. McCullough says her signature style can be found in the opening scene, which is a flashback. “I’m told my style is very layered: like a shot within a shot within a shot,” she shared. “Meaning I try to incorporate a lot… I think that’s because of my dance background. It’s like choreographing the camera.”
That being said, the series that Mc-Cullough calls “my dream show” is the one that’s keeping her the busiest right now: HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES on Disney+. “The choreographer, Zach Woodlee, is brilliant, so it’s been a wonderful collaboration,” she enthused. “I’m going back to direct three more episodes, and I did their reshoots, too — in all, I will have touched eight of the 10 episodes.”
When her jobs are conducive, McCullough happily brings her 2-year-old son, Otis, along, which means taking the art of multi-tasking to another level. “It’s often at least 13-hour days, and there are no breaks,” she sighed. “They’ll follow you around on set with a director’s chair asking, ‘Kimberly, do you want to sit here? Do you wanna sit here?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t sit.’ And they don’t believe me! And then like day three, they finally stop bringing the chair over.”
For more on your favorite GH stars — past and present — keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine
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