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She trained as an actress at Central School of Speech and Drama in London and also appeared in Minder and The Chief before quitting acting and working in retail clothing. She returned to showbusiness in the late 1990s when she read a playscript written by her friend Charlotte Jones entitled Airswimming and decided that she wanted to direct the piece. Although it was presented in a small theatre, it re-launched the career of the two women to the point where today Mackmin is one of the country's foremost theatre directors with over twenty productions to her credit in the West End and all over the rest of the country including Iphigenia in a new version by Edna O’Brien, Breathing Corpses, The Lightning Play, Hedda Gabler, Really Old Like Forty Five, Me and My Girl and several collaberations with ex-Coronation Street regular Amelia Bullmore including Mammals, Ghosts and Di and Viv and Rose.