Spotlight on Beth McCarthy Miller

Spotlight on Director Beth McCarthy-Miller

October 8, 2020 An Eastern Directors Council Focus on Women Committee Virtual Event

On October 8, DGA Award-winning Director Beth McCarthy-Miller discussed her career during a special online event hosted by the Eastern Directors Council’s Focus on Women (FOW) Committee.

Following an introduction by FOW Co-Chair Maggie Greenwald, McCarthy-Miller spoke about her career and her influence on other Directors in a conversation moderated by Directors Sarah Brooke (Meet the Press) and Shanta Fripp (CBS This Morning).

McCarthy-Miller got her start in the industry as an MTV intern who landed a job as an assistant to a line producer and admitted she was initially going headed in a different direction.

“I was waitressing on the weekend so I could afford to, you know, eat,” she recalled. “I was going to take a fulltime producer job because it was more money and two directors sat me down and said not to. A directing job was going to open up and they really saw me in the director’s chair because they thought that's where my talents were. I took their advice and sucked it up for about 6 more months and it was the greatest advice I've ever been given.”

She also recalled what it was like to be a female director in the male-dominated environment that was Saturday Night Live of that era, and her early thoughts about going to work on the series. “I was originally only being looked at for part of the show like doing music and segments, so when they wanted me for the whole show, I was completely terrified. Saturday Night Live was an extremely well-oiled machine before I got there and had been on the air for 20 years. I was sticking out like a sore thumb because I was a lot younger than a lot of the people there, I was female, and I was the wrench thrown into organized chaos. The first few months were awful. You're doing the show live and that show lives on making changes at the last minute. It was like going to war, but it prepared me for every single thing I do. It's an unbelievably creative environment to be and I am absolutely blessed that Lorne Michaels chose me that many years ago. 11 years at Saturday Night Live taught me how to think quickly on my feet to change scenes and blocking to make it work for everybody.”

McCarthy-Miller also gave her thoughts on the collaborative nature of comedy. “Comedy, I think, it's really it is a group effort. With comedy you're always trying to make it better and funnier. So sometimes the actors have a different thought than you had sometimes your showrunner has a different thought than you and, for me, the best idea wins.”

Asked whether she has a preference between single-camera and multi-camera directing, McCarthy-Miller, who has won accolades for her longtime work in both mediums replied, “No. Honestly I love them both. I love the high you get from live directing. I love having to think on my feet like that, sitting with actors and working out a scene and making it better. I love the time you have with single-cam, setting your shots and doing your takes. I love the time you have on a multi-camera show, when you're doing run-throughs at the end of your rehearsal days and you can see the whole episode in front of you. I think every genre has huge positives and honestly and when they all meld together, like when I did the live Sound of Music that was like [makes explosion sound] everything!”


About the Panelists:

Beth McCarthy MillerDirector Beth McCarthy-Miller
McCarthy-Miller began her directorial career on such shows as MTV UnpluggedThe Ben Stiller Show and numerous high-profile concerts. She later directed 11 seasons of Saturday Night Live. She has garnered 13 DGA Award nominations, winning in the comedy series category for her 2017 for the Veep episode “Chicklet” and her 2013 30 Rock episode “Hogcock!/Last Lunch.” She also won two DGA Awards in the Musical Variety category, in 2001 for America: A Tribute to Heroes (co-directed with Joel Gallen) and in 2000 for the “Val Kilmer and U2” episode of Saturday Night Live. She has been a DGA member since 1994.


Sarah BrookeDirector Sarah Brooke (co-moderator)
A Director in live news, talk and variety for 19 years, Brooke is currently the Director of the most-watched Sunday public affairs program, NBC’s Meet the Press. Before the pandemic, she regularly coordinated and produced notable newsmaker interviews with members of the White House administration and Congress. She has also directed such notable events as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election night gathering in New York, President Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago, President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address, and the memorial service for Congressman John Lewis at the U.S. Capitol. Brooke has been a DGA member since 2005..


Shanta FrippDirector Shanta Fripp (co-moderator)
Fripp began her career at CBS as an assistant in the market research department before she became a Production Associate at the CBS News Early Show. She climbed the ranks to a hard news Associate Director and control room AD. In March 2014, Fripp was named Director of CBS This Morning Saturday and directed the pool feed for the 2016 Republican National Convention. In July 2019 she was named the Director of CBS This Morning and directed the pool feed for the Republican National Convention in August 2020. Fripp joined the DGA in 2002.

About the Committee

The Eastern Directors Council’s Focus on Women Committee’s current Co-Chairs are Directors Maggie Greenwald and Annetta Marion. The Committee members are Directors Marilyn Agrelo, Laura Belsey, Shari Springer Berman, Sarah Brooke, Lisa Cortes, Jan Eliasberg, Shanta Fripp, Nicole Kassell, Martha Mitchell, Sarah Pirozek, Adriana Robles, Sasie Sealy and Vivien Vitolo. The Committee would like to remind members that while their events are designed with a special focus on women directors, all DGA members are welcome to attend.

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