In this episode, the Madames interview Nina Lopez-Corrado, award-winning director of shows such as The Mentalist, Supernatural, & A Million Little Things. Nina discusses her journey from film school to network TV, the challenges women face in the industry, & her exceptional directing work on Agents of SHIELD, including the critically-acclaimed episode, “Alien Commies from the Future.” Nina also talks about her non-profit work in Puerto Rico & an upcoming true crime project from her production company, Broken Toy Works.

Nina Lopez-Corrado

Nina Lopez-Coraddo IMDB  Twitter  Instagram 

Broken Toy Works

The Puerto Rican Education Foundation

To hear more about Nina’s work on Agents of SHIELD, check out our full commentary series.

Take a few minutes & watch Nina’s award-winning short film!

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

Madame Kris:
Welcome to the show and thank you so much for being here, Ms. Nina Lopez Corrado.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Hi! Thank you for having me.

Madame Kris:
Absolutely. So, first off, how is life treating you these days?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
It’s a strange world out there right now, isn’t it? Life has been treating me really well. It’s really horrible, what’s going on. I try to look for something positive in everything. I think the positive things that came out of COVID was it made us all slow down for a second. I know, me personally, I have been working nonstop for a decade and to be able to reconnect with my husband and my family, and just kind of be still for a moment, it was really refreshing from a personal point of view, from a creative point of view. So the quarantine, for me, hasn’t been horrible. I’ve been kind of enjoying being home, but as you can imagine, shows are starting to gear up again, I’d say for the past month. It’s been a lot of planning and a lot of reinventing the filmmaking wheel. And that’s been a challenge because we’ve been shooting film and television the same way for a hundred years. So trying to wrap our heads around it looking different has been quite the challenge.

Madame Kris:
Right. You know, it’s great to hear someone speaking so positively about the quarantine, because there’s been so much negativity associated with it. But I agree with you a hundred percent on that feeling.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Yeah. It was waking up every morning and not having to be somewhere and just enjoying my coffee with my husband. It just was really lovely. And so I think I’m a little bit sad. My quarantine comes to an end on Sunday. And so I’m mourning a little bit. I’m like, “Oh no, I’ve got to go back into the real world.” I’m scared. [laughs]

Madame Kris:
Totally, I get it.

Madame Amy:
Yeah. And it makes us realize all the small things that we’ve just sort of taken for granted.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Yeah. It’s really interesting and kind of off topic, but it’s changed my way of thinking. I feel like I was working and when I wasn’t working, I was grocery shopping or buying gifts for somebody or doing something. And now I don’t have that consumer urge to go out and get whatever the hot new thing is because I’ve just been home so much. And so we’ve enjoyed different things, like the rest of the world, like learning how to bake a proper loaf of bread or using my Mixmaster to make a cake from scratch. So I think it’s changed a lot of people for the better.

Madame Kris:
Absolutely. So, you mentioned kind of reinventing the wheel a little bit. Going back to your earlier days, you have a degree in film production from Full Sail University. So, you knew early in life that you wanted to be a creator when you were growing up. What films or shows or actors inspired you to get into the business?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
You know, it’s an interesting thing. As a child, I really always loved television. So what was different about me in film school was I went to film school wanting to work in TV, whereas every other person that I went to school with wanted to be the next Steven Spielberg and looked up to movies like E.T. and Jaws. And so did I. I loved those films and I thought they were amazing. What I loved about television as a kid was the connection that I got from those characters, because we spent so much time with them. In a movie you get to spend two and a half hours with them. And it’s always such an amazing ride, but I never felt like I got super, overly emotionally involved with those characters. But when I watched shows as a kid, like 90210, or ER – I’ll never, ever forget watching the pilot of ER. I was so young and probably shouldn’t even have been watching it. And I was watching it with my mom and when Carol gets rushed into the emergency room at the beginning and George Clooney is working on her like that is embedded in my brain. And so like those things, and I loved watching all of those shows as a kid and how I got to grow with those characters and be with those characters that I wanted to be able to tell those long form stories, as opposed to a short form story, which is a movie.

So when I went to film school, it was funny because it was not the Golden Age of Television in 2005. And I wanted to do it and no one could understand it – “well, why would you want to do TV?” Everybody in film looked down at the people in television. And I was just like, I don’t know. I just think there’s something more there. And so from my television career, my directing career to kind of have taken off during what is the Golden Age of Television has kind of been a dream come true because it’s all I ever wanted. And so I had been able to grow with it and it’s interesting, because now all those people that I went to film school with all want to be in TV now.

Madame Kris:
The tables have turned. And it’s funny how you mentioned George Clooney and in regards to the condescension there, because he was the first big TV star to really make that jump onto the big screen.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Yeah, he did. And it’s so funny because the joke about Clooney was, if you want your pilot to fail, cast Clooney. And ER happened. And then now Clooney is who we are and he’s just such a prolific filmmaker. And he just has such a vision. And he’s someone who I always looked up to and now I love watching his movies that he directs and he acts in. And to be able to do it all, I think it’s such an accomplishment.

But listen, I loved films too. I grew up on John Hughes movies and those stories. And so I guess as you can tell, I really always was attracted to character pieces and kind of examining life, real life. And I felt that was something that John did really well. And so I’ve always been attracted to shows like that, which is interesting because I did not fall into shows like that. When I first started directing, I did a lot of superhero stuff and a lot of action stuff and crime procedurals, which in my mind, I didn’t see myself that way. I saw myself differently. I thought I would base my career on serialized dramas, but I didn’t go down that path until recently when I started doing A Million Little Things. But I did find doing the superhero shows, you got a good combination of character pieces and you still got to shoot all these really cool action scenes.

Madame Kris:
Yes. For sure. Definitely in Marvel.

Nina Lopez-Corrado
Yeah, definitely.

Madame Amy:
You’ve worked your way up the ranks behind the scenes from assisting on independent short films, all the way to directing major network TV shows, including Supernatural, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and A Million Little Things. Was directing always your goal or did that desire develop over time?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
So I performed a lot as a child. I was into dance, so I was always on the stage. I was always teaching and choreographing. And so I always knew I wanted to do something that was creative and I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. The interesting thing was my brother was kind of a part of the inspiration because, as kids, my brother was always running around with a camera and shooting these movies. And so we always shot these silly little movies that we would create. And then my brother would edit them from VHS to VHS in our bedrooms. So he did all the editing and, in reality, I think he did most of the directing when we were kids. And then when I got into high school, I kind of stopped making those movies with my brother and my sister. And they would do them. And I really focused all my time and efforts in the dance studio. And then my brother was looking at schools – he’s 17 months younger than me. And one of the schools that he looked at was Full Sail. And when I was going to a dance competition – Nationals – in Orlando, Florida, my mom’s like, “Let’s go look at this school that your brother’s interested in.” So my mom and I went on a tour of Full Sail and when we went on the tour, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is really amazing. I think I want to do this.” And up until then, I never thought that I could have a career in arts. So I was planning on going to law school and then I went to Full Sail and I was just like, this is kind of the best of all the worlds. Like all this equipment looks really awesome and it just looks like I could have fun going to work every day. So I kind of stole my brother’s dream.

I ended up applying and going to Full Sail. And for the first time in my life, even more so than at the dance studio, I felt like I had met my people. I had finally fit in somewhere and it just all came naturally to me. I just felt like I understood production so well, even though I didn’t understand it at all. And so very early on in my film school career, I started producing short films and music videos, and producing them in the way that they had taught us how to shoot in film school. I had to have control. I have a bit of a control issue. And so I would be the production manager and the first AD, and by doing both of those things, the production manager in film school was the person that was producing the projects. And the first AD because you didn’t have one director for anything. You had like four directors. You had to be the person that was making sure that everybody’s creative thoughts were coming together in one cohesive way. And so you ended up kind of directing the directors to direct the film. And so that, I think, is where it kind of blossomed: “Oh, well, how do I become the person that is producing and directing all these short films?” While I was in film school, we were super fortunate. We had a kid in our class who was independently wealthy and gave us ten grand to make a movie. I got to do a lot of learning while I was in film school. And then when I left and I went out to Los Angeles, I moved out to LA with seven of my closest film school buddies, all of which were male. And we moved into a house together to try and make it in Hollywood.

And I decided very early on, if I became an assistant, then perhaps I can learn more about the art of directing through somebody else. And so that’s what I did. I ended up getting hooked up with Chris Long, and he kind of took me under his wing and became my mentor. And so for the next eight years, I got to learn the art of directing firsthand and the art of making television from concept all the way to the final mix. And Chris long and Bruno Heller, our showrunner on The Mentalist, gave me the access. And their motto was kind of, “Responsibility is taken not given.” And so I learned everything inside and out of television and The Mentalist ended up becoming kind of like my grad school, which then started my directing career.

Madame Kris:
Wow. You know, we were just going to ask about the challenges you faced on the way, but I think it’s safe to say living with seven men would be one of them.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
It was that! That is an interesting period of my life. We were all such good friends and I inherently was kind of like the mama bear. So it was me and all these guys. And we were all really trying to figure out what we wanted to do and how we were going to carve our way into the film industry. And so when we first got out there, they were doing a lot of indie stuff and I had dabbled a little bit in indie. But I got my job with Chris very early on. I think we pulled into Los Angeles on the 4th of July of 2007. And I started working for Chris in August. So in between there, I was working on these short films for a company called Freestyle. And so I was working full-time pretty immediately. And they were doing camera work on short films and web series and trying to get work wherever they could as a PA. So their work was really sporadic. So my memory is them playing beer pong and me trying to sleep or coming home from work and one of the mattresses would be out by the pool. And they were jumping from the second-floor decking to the mattress, into the pool. So there were definitely some challenges.

Madame Kris:
Wow.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
But as for becoming a filmmaker, I got super lucky with Chris. I think the thing that people forget sometimes is that filmmaking is a trait and finding someone who will mentor you similar to if you want to become a cobbler or a welder, you need to find somebody who is an expert in it and hope that they will teach you all the tricks of the trade so that you can become an expert and then share those tricks and trades with the next generation. And I’ve just been super fortunate that in my whole journey, I have bumped into all the right people that were willing to share tricks and their trades and helped me grow as a filmmaker. And of course, Chris is the pillar. And he was the one who really opened up those doors for me.

But along with Chris, there was Bruno Heller and Bob Singer and Phil Sgriccia, and John Showalter and Joss and Jed Whedon, and Marissa Tancharoen, Jeff Bell – all these people who were a part of my very early days of directing and producing. They empowered me and gave me the tools that I needed in order to succeed. And I think the key for any young filmmakers out there is finding someone that’s willing to give you access to their brain. But that also falls on us. Like those people who gave me those opportunities, they made a choice to give me those opportunities and they saw something. And so I try to give back whenever I can and find the next person that I can give those tools to so that they can grow and also become a successful producer/director.

Madame Kris:
That is a great mindset. And that leads us really well into our next question. So in 2012, your short film, Mindfield, won a number of awards at various international film festivals. So clearly everything really came together for you. How did it feel to get such critical acclaim on your directorial debut?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
You know, it’s funny. It was kind of surreal because at the time I really wanted to be directing an episode of television and it just wasn’t my time yet. And so Chris financed a Mindfield and his theory was kind of like, “Well, if we can’t give you an episode to direct here, let’s do something else so that we can prove to everyone that you can direct.” And I was super grateful because his wife, Erin Donovan, wrote the script and it was an amazing script. And I felt very close to it. And I think talking about depression and suicide and the effects that it has was something that meant a lot to me. It was something that also meant a lot to Grant, and his mom suffered from depression. And so the movie came together in a really special way. I think that I’ll start there with the backstory.

Chris said, “let’s do this.” We decided to do it. And then the whole crew of The Mentalist really came together in a labor of love and donated their time to making that movie. It was like our first AD and our DP and our camera operators and our grips and our electrics, and even the craft service people. And our art director was my production designer and our set dec guys – they all were part of my Mentalist family. And all those people watched me grow up on that show. I started on The Mentalist when I was 20 and they always were super supportive of me becoming a director. And so those two days we took to shoot Mindfield was really a labor of love on their part. And so the movie became something a lot bigger than me. It became like a passion project for our crew.

And so when we started getting into film festivals and we started winning awards and stuff, it wasn’t about just me. It was about all of us and how we all came together and they all did that for me. So Mindfield holds a very special place in my heart because I know not a lot of people get that opportunity. And to be able to make your first film with these Hollywood professionals that have been doing it, for some of them 30 or 40 years, and to watch them all come together to make my vision come to life was really amazing. And at the Madrid film festival, I won the best new director award. And that was really – I couldn’t believe it. It was something that I had dreamed of from being a little girl, like going off to Hollywood and making something that was mine, and then never thought that there would ever be a time where I would win an award or someone would acknowledge it. And then to have had that happen? It was really life altering. It was really crazy. And it did give me the confidence to know that maybe I do have something to say to the world and now the world will be able to actually see it.

Madame Kris:
That’s a great lesson for young girls out there in the industry, too, looking to follow a similar path is that you never achieve anything alone.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
No, never. And literally anybody can do it if I can do it. I grew up in a middle- lower-class family in a mobile home park in Clinton township, Michigan. And going from there to here is two different worlds, isn’t it? But it goes to prove that if you want something and if you put your mind to it, and if you put in the hard work, and I think that’s the part that sometimes young people today, they miss that little piece. If you put in the work, you can do it, you can achieve it. It is possible. I am proof of that. It is possible. And so Mindfield was the stepping stone to making all my dreams come true. And it’s one little step at a time. But then once you get a bunch of those little steps, they start turning into leaps. And then before you know it, you’re living your dream.

Madame Amy:
Yeah. And well, you’ve directed five episodes of Agents of S.H.I.EL.D., including one of the latest episodes, “Alien Commies from the Future.” Were you a fan of the show or Marvel in general prior to being invited to direct?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
I was very familiar with the show. I had watched it. I didn’t watch it religiously before I started directing over there, but I had seen an episode here or there. It’s always a little crazy in this business. We never have a ton of time to watch anything other than the stuff we’re working on. But to me, it was like this untouchable show. It’s such a big show. It has big stunts, big visual effects. It has big storylines. It was one of those shows that was not easy to get. So I never thought I would get one until I got one. And it’s a funny thing.

The way I got the job, when I first started directing, after my first two episodes, I was lucky enough to get invited to what I call speed dating with executives. And what you would get is there would be like 20 executives from like ABC. And then they would bring in showrunners of different shows. So at the time, Jeff Bell was there from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And the girls, the executives from Marvel were there and Castle and Grey’s Anatomy and whatever shows were on air at the time. You would get literally five minutes to tell your story to each one of the executives. And then a bell would go off just like speed dating, and then you’d move to the next one. So you really had to get your story down in four minutes so that you had at least one minute to answer questions. And so I met the Marvel girls and Jeff Bell at that speed dating. And literally, I just had five minutes with each of them, but they both seemed really awesome. Jeff was super cool.

And then two weeks later it was booking season and my then agent gave me a call and they were like, “Oh, we just got an offer for you to do Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.EL.D.” And I literally put the phone down and looked at my husband. I’m like, “I just got Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.” And he’s like, “no way!” And I’m like, “I swear to God!” It completely caught me off guard because I met with so many shows. And again, I just never thought the show that I would get was the big superhero show. But lo and behold, I did. So I started watching it immediately and became a huge fan of the show. And I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that I was going to be able to make something so creative.

Madame Kris:
Yeah. And it definitely fulfilled that childhood love of yours for those long form stories with crazy character arcs.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Exactly. And just like that first script that I got – Craig wrote it. And it was just so bananas and the Koenigs were in it. And it was such a cool thing, but I was super nervous when I first got there, because I was just like, “Oh my gosh, this is so big.” And they were just the most loving family. And the whole entire world, every cast member, every crew member, were just so accepting and so wanting to make your vision come to life, which is why I kept on going back. Because every time I would go there as a guest director, it would just be like, however big you can dream, we will make it happen. And you don’t always get that opportunity when you go to shows.

Madame Kris:
Right. So what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Well, I think our biggest challenge when I was doing my first episode was working with Patton at the time his wife had just passed away. It was a really challenging time for him. And I think as a show, everybody really wanted to be there for him and support him. But he was also learning how to raise his young daughter by himself. And so I think the biggest challenge on that episode was that he was playing four different characters and the schedule was quite tight. So figuring out how to tell that story in the most precise way possible so that we can literally get him out so that he can go be a dad. So I think that was our biggest challenge.

And then the ultimate challenge, though, was that hoverboard. Oh my gosh! The hoverboard was the bane of all of our existence because we originally were like, “Oh yeah, Patton can get on the hoverboard. We’ll just shoot it like an actual hoverboard.” And then we very quickly realized, no, that’s not going to happen. And we realized that because I went to go try the hoverboard over in the writer’s room. And I was on it for maybe 10 seconds and completely fell on my butt – this is not going to happen. And Patton is the funniest human in the world, but he’s not the most physical person. So everything in that episode was just him running and fighting and hovering and stuff. So I think the biggest challenge on that one was figuring out how can we make this look as real as possible and how can we cheat it. So there’s a lot of cheating going on and it ended up coming together really well. So I think we achieved our goal.

Madame Kris:
You certainly did. It looked seamless on screen.

Nina Lopez-Corrado
Thank you.

Madame Kris:
And he was also trying to finish Michelle’s book at the time, right?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
He was. He was finishing the book and there was actually this really, really sweet moment. His daughter had a dance recital and he just had to go to that dance recital. There was an under no circumstance that he could miss it because it was the first one after his wife had passed. And so we kind of moved a bunch of things around and it was the day we were doing the passing of the briefcase when they were walking across the street and he had to get out and I was like, “I can shoot this in one shot, if you are just onboard with it and we can get you out.” And he was totally on board. And we got him out on time and everybody cheered and they were super excited and he got to go to that recital. He sent us pictures of the recital and her smile was priceless. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of TV. And when you get on a crew like S.H.I.EL.D., because it took the whole crew to get out in time and to work together and work as one cohesive unit so that we can get him to his daughter’s recital. And it worked and everybody was super happy and he was super grateful. And so I always thought that was a really nice moment.

Madame Kris:
Especially in these times, it’s lovely to hear those stories of crews and casts really coming together to support a cast mate.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Exactly.

Madame Amy:
What was your favorite episode to direct and why?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
I think my favorite episode that I directed was “Alien Commies from the Future.” That one’s interesting because I knew it was going to be my last episode of S.H.I.EL.D. and I was super emotional about that. Everybody was emotional the last season because it was an end. And that group of people, that crew? When we leave a show, it’s never the same ever again, because you’ll never get every single one of those people back on your crew. And so when Allan Westbrook and I went into it with the cinematographer, I was like, “let’s just do whatever we want to do. Let’s just make something that is just a little bit outside of the box.” And so my inspiration was the Coen Brothers, and I just really stuck to thinking outside of the box and not doing traditional coverage and just looking at it from a different lens. And Allan was so supportive of it and totally on board. And so I think, creatively speaking, it was really, truly my vision that came to life in that one. And Allan’s too. And we talked a lot about tone and how he was going to light it and how we were going to shoot it. And the camera operators were totally on board. And so were the cast and Jed and Marissa and Jeff. So I think that was my favorite one creatively because we just had such a good time and we knew it was the last time that we were going to work together. In the end, I was just so pleased with the final product.

Madame Amy:
It was a fantastic episode. I think it’s our favorite episode in this season so far.

Madame Kris:
Yes. Can you tell us a little bit about creating that rich, detailed 1950’s atmosphere? Specifically, the diner scene was just incredible in terms of those little details.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
The diner scene was so fun. We shot that one on location out in the desert. And when we went to look at it, it just fit perfect for what we needed. Very rarely do you walk into a location and it’s built the way that you’d need it to work. So that was the first main thing. And then we were so fortunate that with Season Seven, there was a little bit more money in the budget to be able to go all out. So getting all of those vintage cars and all of that stuff that made it feel real, I think is a huge part of what happened and how it came that way. And then Greg, the production designer, his vision was just completely on point with mine. And they did such a great job with set dec with Melissa to be able to bring in all of those vintage pieces, which just made it feel so authentic and so real. And then along with the camera and working with them to shoot things a little bit off-axis. Usually on S.H.I.E.L.D., there’s a lot of dirty overs and we shot everything clean in this episode. And we did it in a limited amount of time, too, because we only had one day out in the desert and we had to shoot a lot of stuff in that one day. So everyone was really excited and really jazzed that we had this really awesome fifties period piece. And so it just came together and all the details just worked really beautifully. But I think in large part, it was because of the art department. The art department has been phenomenal this season. They’ve been fantastic. And I think we need to give a round of applause to Whitney [Galitz], the costume designer. She just killed it. Every time they would come in in the new costumes, it would just be breathtaking. And hair and makeup just did so much research and they were also perfectly costumed and hair and makeup’ed for whatever period they’ve been in so far. I think it was just really a fun change for everybody that was involved. Y

Madame Kris:
From what we’ve seen on social media, the costumes have gotten more attention than anything else.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
It is crazy! And Whitney, at the time, was super pregnant and she was just killing it. She must have been so tired by my episode. She was pretty far along. And she was just bringing out all these amazing pieces and every single thing she showed us was just on point. There was never, “Oh no, we were thinking it was a little bit more like this.” It was just exactly what we were thinking. She did so much research and just really killed it.

Madame Amy:
Yeah. In this episode, you, along with the writers, Nora and Lilla Zuckerman, handled racism and sexism really well, in a very deft manner. How has your journey as a woman in this industry helped inform the way you tell stories about women on screen?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
It’s an interesting time we’re in right now because I’m coming up when there was a push for female and diversity directors. And so I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with a majority of people who support the movement and who want different voices telling their stories. And I do think, everybody directs from a different perspective. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, blue, purple, male, female, transgender – we all walk down a different path and we all have different experiences. So getting all those different people to tell the stories on a weekly basis, I think really makes our shows more well-rounded. And so I have been fortunate to be on shows that want all those voices. I’ve also been on a couple of shows that aren’t so open to hearing those voices. And so sometimes it was very challenging to be a young female director.

And I think it was a combination for me. It was the combination of being incredibly young and given the opportunity to direct and being a female. And so sometimes you feel like you have to prove yourself twice as hard because most of the crew has been doing it a lot longer than you. And therefore, they feel like probably it was handed to me or I don’t deserve it, or I haven’t put in enough time until you get in the trenches with them. And you prove that you do know what you’re doing. And then they usually jump on board. And even in those shows where probably they only hired me because I was a female, you have to learn to put that aside and keep on doing the job and do the job to the best of your ability and prove to them that you can do it. And you get used to that. And I think that’s inherently part of the problem. Why do we have to get used to proving ourselves to them? Why can’t we come into the job with the same confidence that they give our counterparts when they show up? They don’t think that they’re going to do the job bad. But I think that also made me a tougher director, a stronger director, because you don’t have the opportunity to fail. Because if you fail, you’re not just failing for you, you’re failing for whatever females or diversity directors that are coming after you.

And so it’s always been important to me to give my best work, not just 100%, but 200%, so that there is absolutely no question when they’re looking at the next season about who they’re going to hire. Not only will they bring me back, but they’ll be like, “Oh, well she was a great director. Let’s see what other really great female directors there are out there.” And I think that’s just a part of how it goes. We’re reinventing what it looks like to be a filmmaker in Hollywood. And now when they look through that window, they’re not just seeing one thing. Now, they’re seeing a bunch of things. They’re seeing different colors and different sexes. And so there’s a process in that. It doesn’t just change overnight. I understand that, but I think what’s happening right now is amazing. I think stories are being told differently and across all platforms and that’s happening because now we’re getting voices from a bunch of different people instead of just one type of person.

Madame Amy:
What do you think would be different for a woman to come in as a director now, as opposed to when you started your journey? How do you think things are different?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Now? Even more so I think, maybe after COVID, now that the showrunners and the people doing the hiring people (like me), the producing directors, I think we’re looking at things in a different way. And so I think it’s always going to be difficult to become a director. I think no matter who you are, male or female, the opportunity is so sought after that it’s never going to be an easy task. But is it going to be slightly easier or will it look different for newer, younger female and diverse directors? I think so. I know I, for sure, look at directors who come onto my show in a different light than how some people looked at me. And I know I have confidence in them and I have a mission to make them succeed. And so I think once you are able to figure out how to get the first episode or get the opportunity, I do think on a number of shows, there’ll be a higher success rate because we want female endeavourers and diversities to succeed. It’s my goal to make them succeed, to do whatever it takes to make them succeed. And I don’t have that goal just for female diversity. I have that for every director that walks through my door. My job as a producing director is to support the director and their vision. And I want every episode to be great and I want them to be great. And so I do think it will be different. I think it will be. I think it’ll be a little bit easier for some of them once they get the opportunity.

Madame Amy:
You think, as a woman director, a newcomer would get more opportunities now than before?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Well, we’re in a really tricky time. Right now, I would say, four months ago? Yes. I would say today, in COVID? No. I think we have a lot of challenges right now that we’re going to have to figure out on how to get new talent in the door while we don’t have a vaccine. The truth is this season is going to be a really difficult time because most shows, we don’t know what it’s like. Just with COVID we know it’s going to be more challenging. We know the process is going to take a lot longer. And so what we are looking for on most shows is to bring back returning directors. We’re also not going to be able to have shadows this season because the limited number of crew members that are going to be allowed on set. So unfortunately, I think until there’s a vaccine, it’s not going to be an easy task to get new talent in the door. My hope is because, like I said, I always like to look at the positive because there’s going to be such a lack of content across all platforms. There’s going to be a huge push to make content once we come out of this COVID world. And when that happens, there’s just not going to be enough directors to go around, or showrunners or writers. So hopefully it will open doors for new talent to get in because there’ll be so much stuff being shot all at one time.

Madame Kris:
Right. Now, you and your husband, Juliana Costa, also have your own production company called Broken Toy Works. Can you tell us a little bit about your vision there?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Yeah! So it’s always been important to myself and Julian to tell stories, to tell diverse stories. And so most of the stuff that we create are Latino based. My husband’s Puerto Rican and one of our projects, which is called Hunters of Men, is based on a true story. My husband’s father, Jose Lopez, was the youngest appointed U.S. Marshal in the history of the U.S. Marshal service. He was U.S. Marshal for Puerto Rico in the 1970’s and eighties. And he spent most of his career quite literally hunting men in Central and South America. He was a very big part of the war on drugs in the early 1980s. And one of his big missions was he captured, kidnapped, and brought back to the U.S. a man named Juan Ramon Matta-Ballasteros. And Matta was important because his airline, SETCO Airline, was the airline that was running the arms for the Reagan administration during the Iran Contra scandal.

Madame Kris:
Oh wow.

Nina Lopez-Corrado
And Matta’s cocaine, in return, was flooding the streets of the U.S. legally. And basically, his cocaine created the crack epidemic. And because of Jose bringing him back to the USA, Matta is serving a multiple life sentence at the super max in Florence, Colorado.

And so the project that we’ve been pitching for quite a while is a period piece, but it also shows the dynamics of the war on drugs and the effects it has on the people doing the fighting and the dying on both sides of the line. And I think there’s this really interesting thing. Puerto Rico is an interesting thing to the United States. It was the very first time we had homegrown assets that can speak the native tongue. So when we sent down people like my father-in-law down to Central and South America, we had never had that before. When we were recruiting spies, like in Russia, we were recruiting them. They weren’t Americans. They were Russians that were working for Americans. This was a native-speaking American sent down to Central and South America who could speak the tongue. So, Puerto Rico’s, the Ireland of the United States, or the red-headed stepchild. We want them when we need them, but we don’t want them when we don’t need them. And so I think it’s an interesting story to be told what it’s like to be a Latino in an American world and fighting for the American government when you have stronger ties to what’s happening down in Central and South America. So we try to tell stories, diverse stories that maybe haven’t been told yet. That’s what’s important to myself and Julian when pitching stories and telling stories.

Madame Amy:
I can’t speak for anyone else, but this sounds really interesting to me, that story has not been told before.

Madame Kris:
I’m a huge, true crime buff, and I’ve never even heard of it.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Yeah. It’s pretty crazy. There’s a lot of stuff about it on the internet. And law enforcement’s an interesting thing, because I think people don’t truly understand what it does to the people who are actually doing the work. It’s an interesting thing. And I remember when we did all these interviews with my father-in-law. We got the name of the series because he was explaining himself just very nonchalantly. It was just like, “Yeah, you know, I was a hunter of men.” And they really are. That’s what they do. They go and they find these bad guys in order to protect us. And sometimes I don’t think we fully understand what kind of impact that has on their lives and the way that they live.

Madame Kris:
Right.

Madame Amy:
Can you also tell us a bit about the non-profit work you do in Puerto Rico?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Absolutely. I think when my husband and I – when I first started directing and he’s been acting for quite a long time – when we started making money we were like, “What can we do to give back?” And we thought about just donating to other places. But then my husband was in Puerto Rico and he was with his dad. And his grandmother was a teacher her whole life. She taught in Toa Alta, which is this very, very small town in Puerto Rico. And they went to go visit the school that she taught at and Lorna, who was the principal, said there were all these very, very smart kids and they all wanted to go to college, but just didn’t have the resources to do it. And so Julian came home and was like, “I’d really love to start a scholarship foundation.” And I was like, “I think that is a great idea. And I think it should be more than just scholarships. We should create a network.” And so we created the Puerto Rican Education Foundation, and each year we give kids scholarships to go to college. One of the stipulations of getting a scholarship is that they enroll in the University of Puerto Rico. When the recession happened in 2008, a lot of Puerto Ricans started leaving Puerto Rico and moving to the mainland of the U.S., mostly Florida. What happened is that all of the young, bright minds were moving out, so now there are a lot of elderly there. And so we need to recreate the foundation of Puerto Rico. So by getting the kids to stay in the University of Puerto Rico and become doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, teachers, we’re hoping to rebuild the foundation so that Puerto Rico can go back to its glory days. And so we have been doing that for a few years now. And then once the kids get a scholarship, they become a part of the organization. And we hold events throughout the year. They all have my email address, my phone number, Julian’s phone number and email address. So we try to keep them all together. We don’t just support them the year that they’re a senior going to college. So they have an infrastructure and people they can turn to anytime they need anything. We can help really, honestly build this new Puerto Rico.

Madame Amy:
That’s amazing.

Madame Kris:
That is awesome. You’re making a real difference down there and they need it.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Thanks, they do. And the kids are so amazing. And they make you grateful for everything that you have. And you’re grateful to have them in your lives, because they’re just so smart.

Madame Kris:
Now, we saved our most important question for last here. What we’d love to know, and our listeners would love to know is, how many takes did you have to do for that oh-so-moist interrogation scene?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Oh. My. Gosh. Soo many takes! So much laughing. I had to be so far off the set because I just could not keep it together. That was such an amazing scene and it was so magical. And it took forever to shoot because of that.

Madame Amy:
Were there too many moist tears?

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Way too many moist tears.

Madame Kris:
I had to stop playback myself while I was watching it and my dogs kind of freaked out like, “Mom are you ok?” And I’m like “Guys, Mom is just doubled over with laughter, I’m ok.”

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Oh my gosh, that is so funny. It was such a great scene to shoot – probably close to 10 takes, which is a lot for us. We try not to do that many because we don’t have that much time, but it was great and it cut together so beautifully.

Madame Kris:
It certainly did.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Guys this was so much fun!

Madame Kris:
Yeah for us too, this was just lovely.

Madame Amy:
It was. We’ve learned so much.

Madame Kris:
And whenever you guys get that project rolling and it comes out, Hunters of Men, I will be tuning in.

Madame Amy:
Yeah, me too.

Nina Lopez-Corrado:
Thank you so much! I will be sure to keep you guys posted when that happens.

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