Taking charge on screen has never been a problem for Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha on Vikings. Through five plus seasons of the History drama series, Lagertha has been a respected warrior and queen, and Winnick has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and Critic’s Choice Award for her performance. However, she recently had the opportunity to step behind the camera and lead things from a whole new perspective. In Vikings’ upcoming sixth season, Winnick had her first chance to direct an episode.
The Toronto native recently spoke with The TV Junkies about her experience directing Vikings as part of our Women Behind Canadian TV series. She detailed how the opportunity came about, as well as what she learned from Helen Shaver and other great female directors who have worked on Vikings episodes in the past. Winnick also discussed the challenge of first being seen as an actor and then director, and how she’s overcome it in order to land other directing jobs like the upcoming Netflix series Wu Assassins.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
The TV Junkies: You’ve had a very successful career in front of the camera as an actress, so what made you want to get behind the camera and try your hand at directing?
Katheryn Winnick: Believe it or not, I actually started off directing plays in high school before I was an actress. I’ve always had a strong fascination with storytelling, as well as just being on camera. It’s always been in the back of my head, but one of the hardest things, especially being a woman, is to get the opportunity of having someone believe in you and getting a chance to show your talent and direct.
For me, after doing Vikings and them wanting me to come back for seasons upon seasons, I then asked and told them I wanted to direct. They were very supportive of that, and there’s nothing better than being involved in the show from the very first day, to now getting to tell a story a different way behind the camera.