Star Wars’ Kathleen Kennedy Is Making Academy Award History

Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
(Image credit: (Disney))

While Hollywood has vastly been known as a male-dominated industry, some women have been able to break the mold and find a place to call the shots. Just look at current Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. The Star Wars producer has been involved in the making of over 60 films, that have collectively grossed more than $15 billion worldwide. These projects range from sci-fi classics such as E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, to other Best Picture nominees including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Her dominance in the industry has now led the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to recognize her achievements. Kennedy will be the first woman to receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award alongside her producing partner and husband Frank Marshall.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Academy's board of directors recently made the decision to recognize the pair, which will be presented to them at the 10th annual Governor's Awards on Nov. 18. Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will be joining Hollywood influencers such as Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and Francis Ford Coppola, who have also been awarded the honor in the Academy's almost 100 years of recipients in the category. Kennedy and Marshall cofounded Amblin Productions with Steven Spielberg in 1981, with a hand in numerous big hits such as the Back to the Future trilogy and the Jurassic Park films. The collaborating partners also established the Kennedy/Marshall Company in 1991, producing Best Picture nominees such as The Sixth Sense, Seabiscuit and Munich.

The distinctive honor recognizes "extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement", "exceptional contributions" to films or "outstanding service to the Academy". Kathleen Kennedy has certainly moved to the top of the industry since her start. Her first Hollywood gig was as secretary to Steven Spielberg on the production of 1941. When the legendary filmmaker was exposed to her good production ideas, she had the opportunity to work on Raiders of the Lost Ark and Poltergeist early in her career. Now, she is best known as the president of Lucasfilm Ltd., since Disney acquired the company in 2012 for more than $4 billion, to which she was previously co-chair alongside George Lucas.

Kathleen Kennedy is currently hard at work, having a central role in all Star Wars films. She put together the creative team starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and has since had a hand in Rogue One, The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. The new franchise has dealt with a couple director swaps with Episode IX and Solo, part of the difficult decisions that Kennedy has had to make as Lucasfilm president. Solo's production problems leading director Ron Howard to step in late in development could have of contributed to the recent Star Wars film to flop at the box office.

While being a Hollywood big shot producer is undoubtedly a difficult one, Kathleen Kennedy has been a part of some impactful films that will always be memorable in the industry. In an almost 100 years of the distinctive award she's received, it's about time a woman executive has made so many achievements in a lifetime and is being recognized for it.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.