What Makes Lucasfilm Exec Kathleen Kennedy Successful

Kathleen Kennedy is best know for being director Steven Spielberg’s partner. She has been part of over 60 feature films which have over 100 Oscar nominations and more than $11 billion in box office revenues.

The 60 year old executive started her career at 29, with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. Her most recent work is the Oscar nominated Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Other films in her long list of credits include the franchises Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. She also produced the World War II drama Shindler’s List in 1983.

Now, as head of Lucasfilm, she is poised to start production of the highly anticiapated Star Wars: Episode VII directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission Impossible). This puts her at the top of the movie business making her one of the most powerful and influential executives of the fairer sex.

In a recent interview with USA TODAY she opens up about her career as a Hollywood top executive and what has it meant to get this far.

“Success is always a matter of some luck and timing. Just like this new job.” she says.

Kennedy says she never expected to take over her good friend George Lucas but that:

“It felt like George was giving me this phenomenal opportunity to step into something that had all the making of what I’d done throughout my career, plus this wonderful new array of opportunities.

“The movie business is changing at an amazing rate. So to have an intellectual property like Star Wars and now be inside a company like Disney, I get to have a seat at the table where we talk about the globalization of the business, new markets, new audiences and new platforms. I’m just incredibly curious about it all.”

Steven Spielberg says that Kennedy’s success can be very easily explained: “She always gets things done with modesty and confidence.” Then he adds that she will be great at her job in Lucasfilm and the only downside might be that she will miss getting her hands dirty.

Kennedy says that she might still do that, because she has been doing it during all her career. She also does not shy away from controversial topics, such as the lack of minorities and women in Hollywood. She states that because she is a woman, she makes a conscious effort to keep in mind diversity during the hiring process.

Of the new collaboration with J.J. Abrams she says:

“J.J. has, in his own way, some of the same qualities that I always saw in Steven and George. What all of these men (Lucas, Spielberg and Abrams) have is the ability to combine a real seriousness about what they do with a sense of humor. So there’s a buoyancy, a lightness, a feeling of aspiration to their storytelling. Of hope.”

For now she is gearing towards production of the first installment of the sequels to the Star Wars franchise, which is scheduled for release sometime in 2015.

[Image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com]