Awarded annually, the Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television.
Fellows previously honored for their work in film include Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Ken Loach, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Helen Mirren, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott. Thelma Schoonmaker received the Fellowship at the 2019 EE British Academy Film Awards.
Kennedy said, “British filmmaking has always played a significant role in both my life and career. The boundless creative vision of artists such as Tom Stoppard, David Lean, Chris Nolan, Stephen Daldry and Peter Morgan continues to inspire me. The recent Star Wars movies – all shot on sound stages and locations across the UK – are just the latest opportunities that I’ve had the privilege to work with British crews and filmmakers, which began in 1980 with Raiders of the Lost Ark and continued with Temple of Doom, Empire of the Sun, Young Sherlock Holmes, War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin, and others. I am deeply honored to receive the Fellowship from BAFTA, and am incredibly thankful to have worked with so many talented members of our extended family in the British filmmaking community.”
Kennedy’s career has spanned 40 years with more than 70 feature films to her name, which have collectively garnered 119 BAFTA nominations and 27 wins, and 25 Academy Awards from 125 nominations. She has worked with directors including Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, JJ Abrams, Julian Schnabel, Marjane Satrapi, M.Night Shyamalan, Frank Oz, Peter Bogdanovich and Richard Donner.
Born in Berkeley, California, Kennedy attended San Diego State University where she majored in telecommunications and film. In her final year, she gained employment at a local San Diego TV Station, taking on various roles before becoming a news production coordinator before moving to Los Angeles. Kennedy secured her first film production job working as an assistant to screenwriter John Milius, who at the time was executive producer of Steven Spielberg’s 1941. The introduction to Spielberg marked the beginning of an illustrious filmmaking partnership which culminated in Kennedy co-founding the production company Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and Frank Marshall.
Amblin went on to produce some of the most iconic films of the last three decades including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), Back to the Future (1985), Batteries Not Included (1987), The Land Before Time (1988), Hook (1991), Jurrassic Park (1993), Schindler’s List (1993), Men in Black (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Munich (2005) and War Horse (2011).
In 1992 Kennedy co-founded and headed The Kennedy/Marshall Company with husband Frank Marshall, while continuing her business relationship with Spielberg, producing award winning films including The Sixth Sense (1999), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), Persepolis (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and The Adventures of Tintin (2011).
In 2012 Kennedy stepped down from Kennedy/Marshall to become co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd. before becoming its president.
As President of Lucasfilm, Kennedy oversees the company’s three divisions: Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. She was the producer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), which broke the record for the biggest domestic opening of all time that year, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the no. 1 grossing film in 2016. She went on to produce Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), the highest grossing film worldwide in 2017, as well as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Kennedy is currently producing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) and is executive producing the live action Star Wars series for Disney+, The Mandalorian (2019).
Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of BAFTA, commented, “I’m delighted that we are recognizing Kathleen Kennedy’s impressive career with a BAFTA Fellowship. Her contribution to filmmaking has been exceptional. She is a trailblazer who has opened the door for many people to join the industry, and the number of iconic cinematic moments she has helped bring to the big screen has enriched the industry and enthralled the cinema–loving public.”