Star Wars’ Kathleen Kennedy Wins BAFTA Fellowship Award, Promises More Female Directors

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BY February 3, 2020

There are two names synonymous with Star Wars and its direction throughout the years. The first, of course, is George Lucas. He created the universe and made the first films in the face of incredible odds. The second name, perhaps less well-known and lauded, is Kathleen Kennedy. Lucas picked Kennedy, whom he worked with on the Indiana Jones films, as his successor at Lucasfilm. Since then, Kennedy has been the one constant on the myriad of Star Wars projects in the Disney era. From the acclaimed Star Wars: Rebels in 2014 to the sequel trilogy to The Mandalorian, everything Star Wars goes through her. With more than 100 producer credits, Kathleen Kennedy won the BAFTA Fellowship award, for a lifetime of achievement.

As president of BAFTA, Prince William presented the Fellowship Award to Kathleen Kennedy, along with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. They celebrated her career, not just for Star Wars or Indy. She’s been long involved with Steven Spielberg as a producer, and the esteemed director delivered a video message to the ceremony. In accepting the award, she talked about the meaning of “fellowship” and “mentorship.” She said that her goal, now, is not just to continue to make great projects but also help bring up the next generation of filmmakers.

A generation, she added in a later interview, that will include Star Wars films directed by women. Asked specifically about that, she assured that a woman would lead a future Star Wars film. She also pointed to The Mandalorian and the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, both of which featured female talent behind the camera as well as in front.

Kathleen Kennedy Deserves the BAFTA Fellowship Award (Sorry Angry Fanboys)

Kathleen Kennedy Bafta FellowShip Award Speech Image via screengrab

From a certain point of view, the decision to not select a woman director for the sequel trilogy is a pretty inspired choice. The reason, sadly, is because of how the fandom would react. Kathleen Kennedy gets an outsized amount of hate and criticism from the (arguably broken) Star Wars fandom. If something goes “wrong” in the eyes of the fans, she’s the first person they blame. If something goes right, say the response to The Mandalorian, the credit goes to anyone else (in this case, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni). In not choosing a woman director for the sequel trilogy, Kennedy ensured that the misogynist criticism from the fandom landed squarely on her.

In winning the BAFTA Fellowship Award, Kathleen Kennedy joins legends like Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Spielberg. (Also, Star Wars alums Christopher Lee and Alec Guinness.) However, unlike those universally acclaimed creators, Kennedy faces undue criticism from fans angry that the future of Star Wars looked differently than they imagined. It’s a thankless job, but one Kennedy handles with aplomb and care. Hopefully, when the passion surrounding Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo dies down, she gets appropriate credit for bringing the galaxy far, far away to a new generation of fans.

You can watch the presentation below:

What do you think of Kathleen Kennedy winning the BAFTA Fellowship Award? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured image via screengrab

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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