Nina Lopez-Corrado has a lot to celebrate. Since graduating from Full Sail University in 2007, she’s served as a producing director and guest director on shows like The Mentalist, Supernatural, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., A Million Little Things, Perry Mason, and The Nevers. Those achievements recently earned Nina a spot in Full Sail’s Hall of Fame, and she’s got more exciting work on the way: She’s directing an episode for the second season of HBO’s Emmy-winning series, The Last of Us.  Nina’s passion for television and commitment to learning the ins and outs of production helped her earn her current list of credits.

Growing up, Nina loved watching TV. The length of the narrative spoke to her (“I spent 24 hours a season with these characters, I felt very emotionally attached to them”), so she decided to pursue a college education that focused on TV. Studying film and television at Full Sail helped her find her creative voice and learn the fundamentals of production. After graduation, Nina moved to Los Angeles and became the assistant to producing director Chris Long.

Gaining Experience on Set

In 2007, Nina was working with Chris on FX’s Dirt where she filled in for additional roles on set and gained new production knowledge.

“Whenever Chris was directing, I was tasked to keep production going,” she says. “So I started going to all of the department meetings and going on all the [location] scouts, I was in post with the editors working on the cuts, and while I was working on cuts, we were finding all the pieces that we were missing, whether it was a drive-by or an insert or whatever it was.”

Nina followed Chris to The Mentalist, where she “learned television from the bottom up” over the course of 150 episodes. She carefully observed the show’s directors, worked in editing, oversaw color timing, checked out the final mix of every episode, and more. By season four she was a producer, and in season seven she directed her first episode of television, “Byzantium.”

During her time on The Mentalist, Nina also directed a short film and was accepted into the Warner Bros. Television Directors’ Workshop. She guest directed several episodes of Supernatural and earned director and producing director credits on A Million Little Things. Finally, her dream network came knocking: HBO reached out to her about directing episodes of The Nevers.

Working with HBO

“My whole entire career, my goal has always been to work at HBO. It’s like the crème de la crème of television, you know, they always had the best shows when I was growing up,” Nina says. 

Getting her foot in the door by directing a couple episodes of The Nevers led to more opportunities with HBO. The network executives brought her on to direct for crime drama Perry Mason, and eventually Nina got the call for her next big opportunity: directing for The Last of Us.

“I met with [the producers for The Last of Us] and it seemed like a really good meeting, but everyone wanted to do The Last of Us, so I didn’t have high hopes. A few weeks go by. I made my peace with it. It wasn’t going to happen. Then out of the blue, I get a call from my managers, and they’re like, ‘The Last of Us just called and they want you to do an episode for them,’” Nina shares. 

“So now I’m going to head up there to direct an episode, and it’s like a dream come true, you know? It’s just this groundbreaking video game that’s been turned into a really amazing television show with really great actors. And I get to be part of it. It’s another milestone hit [in my career].”

Looking Ahead

Nina’s achieved many of the professional goals she dreamed of when she first entered the industry, but she still has more work to do: She’d like to direct an entire television series and make a feature film. In the meantime, Nina is celebrating her recent induction into her alma mater’s Hall of Fame and emphasizing the importance of hard work to future generations of industry professionals. 

“I want [Full Sail] students to know that I shouldn’t be standing here right now,” Nina said during Full Sail’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “No one in their right mind would have gone to one of my classes, pointed at me, and said ‘That one right there. She’ll be successful.’ But I just kept on working, I kept on dreaming, I kept on pushing forward. And with a lot of hard work and a ton of luck, I am where I am today.”