Alumni Profiles

Kelly Carlin ’81

“Crossroads is an incredible sandbox so just jump in and play!”
How would Kelly describe Crossroads in the late ’70s?

“We were very much a bunch of feral animals, running around an alleyway, getting a first-rate, college-bound education,” she recalled with a laugh.

Despite its less than bucolic setting—Kelly remembers buying cigarettes from workers at the auto body shop in the middle of campus—Crossroads allowed her to explore her interest in photography while taking challenging Advanced Placement math and science classes. She joined the School as a sophomore and was drawn to performing, but lacked the confidence to audition for school plays.

The only child of comedian George Carlin and producer Brenda Carlin, Kelly worked as a production assistant and photographer on her father’s television specials as a young adult. In the decades since, she has enjoyed an impressively varied career in the arts. She’s a screenwriter (with her husband, Robert McCall); a TV producer; the host of a podcast and a show on SiriusXM; and the writer and performer of her long-running one-woman show, “A Carlin Home Companion: Growing up with George,” which was also published as a memoir.

Kelly recently served as an executive producer on the 2022 Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary “George Carlin’s American Dream.” “I wanted it to be as creative and innovative as my father was and to not shy away from the truth of him as a human being,” she said of the film, which includes her parents’ struggles with substance abuse and their sometimes-turbulent home life.

Kelly credits decades of therapy with helping her make peace with her unconventional upbringing. Her fascination with the power of storytelling led her to earn a master’s in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. (She also holds a bachelor’s in communication studies from UCLA.) In addition to her creative endeavors, Kelly is a life coach, helping people lead more authentic lives through her program Humans on the Verge.

What would Kelly say to a Crossroads student who feels nervous about performing, as she once did?

“Experiment with everything,” she advised. “You don’t have to get it ‘right’ or be perfect. It’s all play. And Crossroads is an incredible sandbox, so just jump in and play.”