Katie O’Grady

Nike’s “Behind the Design” (LAIKA Studio promo)

Katie O’Grady


1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it

The first spot I directed was for Carerra Sunglasses in Malibu, CA. in the spring of 2017. I had the pleasure of seeing parts of Malibu I most likely wouldn’t have. After taking a break at a local watering hole, I heard the tunnel we were shooting at was nicknamed “The Pink Lady”. A naked lady was secretly painted on the face of the tunnel in the ‘70s in the middle of the night by moonlight. It caused a big stir and the woman that painted it finally came forward when the papers said, “only a man could have done that”. It made shooting my first commercial more memorable knowing that she had fought for her right to be an artist.

2) How did you get into directing?

I have been acting for over 20 years and coaching actors at my acting studio in Portland, OR for 10 years. I first started producing my own projects and had some success with that but quickly realized my passion was working with actors and the camera. I am in the business of directing because of my love for acting, no question.

3) What is your most recent project?

I recently directed a promo for NIKE in conjunction with LAIKA studio. LAIKA has a new film coming out called The Missing Link and Nike teamed up with some of their athletes to do a mock “Behind the Design” video for the animated Big Foot character in the film. I had a blast working with some of the biggest names in sports and finding ways to communicate acting technique.

4) What is the best part of being a director?

The best part about being a director is collaborating with the actors, crew, writers, and client, to bring a vision to life. I get very excited behind the camera when we get the moment we have all been talking about for weeks and it’s based in truth. I love truth-telling in front of the camera and helping everyone around the camera find that is powerful stuff.

5) What is the worst part of being a director?

I crave to learn more and more about camera, lights, pretty much everyone else’s job. I am so curious and there is so little time.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?

My current goal is to direct National Brand commercials while pursuing my own film work (I wrote 3 features this year). I am known for my comedy but feel strongly about the space I provide for an actor working on a drama as well. Anything with a story, even no dialogue, and I’m in!

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?

I was lucky to train with renowned acting coach, Laurel Smith Vouvray, years ago and have never forgotten the work ethic she instilled in all of us. She always said, “It’s about the work”, and that is something you can control. Working hard is a privilege and the outcome is none of my business. If you do the work and keep going the rest will come. I love asking the question, “What else?…what else can we do in this scene, this moment, with this actor, with this budget, with this script. I find combining “What else” with hard work will get you everywhere you ever want to go.

8) Who is your favorite director and why?

Ah, man, I gotta go with Judd Apatow, John Hughes, and Cameron Crow. These guys knew how to grab hold of the teen audience and impact pop-culture like no one else. They understood a “beat” and character development mixed with storyline to perfection. So many good times watching their films. I love film directors and narrowing is hard…on the other end of the spectrum is Odet by Carl Theodor Dreyer, that is a big favorite of mine.

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)

I grew up fishing, hunting and swimming in my backyard but soon became a tried and true girly girl. I come from a fun family that spent a lot of time outdoors, they taught me how to get dirty! We didn’t have a lot of money growing up so Mom and Dad got creative which led me to acting and majoring in communications. I have loved being a working actor for 20 years and in 2008 I opened an acting studio ACTING FOR KIDS AND TEENS AND THE STUDIO NW where we train over 200 kid/adult actors a week. This has been an unexpected joy and each of the incredible actors that work there have changed my life.


Contact Katie O'Grady via email