‘SNL’ director Don Roy King compares directing to playing football

By Kimberly Perry 09/16/18

“I wasn’t one of those kids that loved television and read all about howdy duty and hung out in the studios.”

Emmy Nominee for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series and Saturday Night Live director Don Roy King was pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism when he found his passion with directing.

“I wanted to be an actor, and I somehow stumbled in the theatre department at school and decided to become a broadcasting major just because I didn’t have the guts to tell my Dad.”

During the last class of the broadcasting course, the students produced a panel discussion. King ended up directing after another student was too nervous to do it. “I put the headset on and started to call shots very quickly, very in sync, get out what I needed efficiently as I could, and let the camera operators know exactly what I wanted, anticipate what might happen next, and if a mistake happens get past that mistake and move on to the next thing.”

King compared it to being a quarterback on a football team. He played football when he was younger and loved the adrenaline rush of running a team.

King has been a director for over 3 decades.“I directed ‘CBS This Morning’, ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘The Early Show’ for 21 years.” The styles that King directed helped his transition into late night sketch comedy become his “best job yet”, directing “Saturday Night Live”.

About to work on his 13th season at “Saturday Night Live” this September, King recalls a moment in his 50’s when he needed a career change, but was hesitant in making the leap from morning news television to late night sketch comedy. “My thinking was “Do I really want to start over again? Do I really want to climb that mountain again? Do I really want to have butterflies in my stomach again? Do I really want to take on something I might not be good at? And then I thought- well why not? Why not take the risk? The risk might be worth it. And it was by far the smartest thing I’ve ever done professionally. It has by far been the best job I’ve ever had.”

Taking that risk had led King to several Emmy nominations and wins, including winning this years category of Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series  at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. He has won this Emmy every year for the past decade.