Today, Kathleen Kennedy is recognized as one of the most successful producers in the film industry. Having produced and executive-produced over 70 feature films and multiple television productions, she has over 100 Academy Award nominations on her resume. It comes as no surprise that the leadership skills and qualities she has developed over the years have once again solidified her rightful place at the top of Lucasfilm’s leadership team.
Recently, it was announced that Kennedy’s contract had been renewed until 2024. She will hold her title as the president of Lucasfilm for at least three more years.
George Lucas specifically chose Kennedy to lead Lucasfilm into a new era when Disney officially acquired everything in 2012. He’d been considering retirement, or at the very least not having to run a corporation. But he didn’t have to search hard for the person he knew would handle things with care.
“It occurred to me one day that the perfect person to take over the company was Kathy,” he said when discussing the future of Star Wars. “It’s just such a perfect fit. I felt that I really wanted to put the company somewhere in a larger entity which would protect it.”
So to Disney Lucasfilm went, with Kennedy at the helm. Many outside the industry assume her job involves more hands-on collaboration on creative projects, but there’s a reason Lucas hand-picked someone to run things at the top level. Sometimes when your true passion is making art, you don’t want to handle more of the business elements than you have to. That’s what Kennedy does.
According to Lucasfilm, “As President of Lucasfilm, [Kennedy] oversees the company’s three divisions: Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.”
While she has been the executive producer on multiple projects since her role began, typically the president of a major corporation is primarily a top-level manager. They make sure that everyone and everything that happens at their respective company adheres to its mission, values, and goals. They might be involved in overarching creative decisions, but their main job is to keep all moving parts of a business running at their full, often interconnected potential.
Judging by Lucas’s original faith in Kennedy and yet another contract renewal, there’s no one in charge questioning Kennedy’s capabilities as a leader. It’s more than likely you recognize a minimum handful of projects she has produced, many of them outside of Star Wars. Responsible for overseeing the people and processes that will continue to bring breathtaking stories to life, Kennedy has already more than proven she belongs exactly where Lucas left her.
Here’s to three more years, and many more to come.
Which upcoming Lucasfilm projects are you most excited about?