Rory Kennedy | Biography 2021
Rory Kennedy | Biography 2021

Quick Information

  • Full Name Rory Elizabeth Kathrine Kennedy
  • Occupation Documentarian
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.
  • Born Year And Birthday Dec 12, 1968
  • Age 52 Years, 6 Months
Daughter Of Robert F. Kennedy.

Rory Kennedy | Biography 2021

Rory Elizabeth Kathrine Kennedy was born in Washington, District of Columbia, the United States, on 12 December 1968. She was born as the youngest of 11 children of United States Senator and the winner of the 1968 California Democratic Presidential primary Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. She was born six months after her father was assassinated on 6 June 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. He got fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. At the time, he had won five out of six presidential primaries.


Quick Information
  • Full Name Rory Elizabeth Kathrine Kennedy
  • Occupation Documentarian
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.
  • Birth Date Dec 12, 1968
  • Age 52 Years, 6 Months

Rory Kennedy is a Primetime 'Emmy Award' winning and 'Academy Award' nominated American documentary filmmaker. She is known for her socially concerned and politically charged documentaries.

Who is Rory Kennedy?

Rory Kennedy got involved in filmmaking during her senior year at Brown University after making her first documentary, Women of Substance, in 1994 to address the problem faced by pregnant women who were addicted to drugs. She then went on to make socially informed and politically charged television and theatrical documentaries. Her first feature documentary, American Hollow (1999), garnered several awards and was also nominated for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award.’ So far, she has produced around three dozen documentaries, including award-winning documentaries such as Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007), Ethel (2012),  Last Days in Vietnam (2014), and Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow (2018).

Early Life and Education

Rory Elizabeth Kathrine Kennedy was born in Washington, District of Columbia, the United States, on 12 December 1968. She was born as the youngest of 11 children of United States Senator and the winner of the 1968 California Democratic Presidential primary Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. Two siblings later lost their lives out of 11, namely Kathleen ( born 1951), Joseph (born 1952), Robert Jr. (born 1954), David (1955–1984), Courtney (born 1956), Michael (1958–1997), Kerry (born 1959), Christopher (born 1963), Max (born 1965), Douglas (born 1967), and Rory (born December 1968, after her father's assassination). 

Rory was born six months after her father was assassinated on 6 June 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. He got fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. At the time, he had won five out of six presidential primaries.

“I grew up without a father, and with a sadness for sure, not having him or knowing him,” she shared in an interview. “I also grew up with family who had a real sense of gratitude for the life we have, and for all the extraordinary gifts. There wasn’t a lot of tolerance for feeling like a victim, or feeling sorry for yourself.”

When she was still a teenager, Kennedy and her brother were arrested during a protest outside the South African Embassy. They had joined the protest after seeing the news in which they saw the anti-apartheid activities handled with handcuffs. After that, their mother took them to the protest area after their request.

Later, she was 15 years old when her brother, David, lost his life due to a drug overdose. Later, she lost her other brother, American businessman Michael Kennedy (age 39), in a fatal skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado, in 1997. Micheal was also Rory’s godparent. He had been assigned the role by his mother, who had set the tradition of assigning each of her older children as a godparent to a younger child. In Aspen, Rory gave her brother mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after he dropped unconscious in the snow. 

After completing high school from The Madeira School, a private school for girls in McLean, Kennedy went to Brown University. During her sophomore year at the university, she organized a rally outside a Providence, R.I., supermarket, urging shoppers to boycott grapes in solidarity with migrant farmworkers. Later, she graduated with a degree in women’s studies. 

Filmmaking Career

Kennedy got involved in filmmaking during her senior year at Brown University. She and her classmate Venessa Vadim came together to form the non-profit organization May Day Media, to work in the distribution and production of movies that focused on social conscience. Rory eventually made her first documentary, Women in Substance, to address the issue of pregnant women who were being imprisoned because of their drug and alcohol addiction.

Describing how she got into filmmaking, she shared, “I was a women’s studies major, and I had been reading in the paper about cases of pregnant women addicted to drugs and alcohol who were being incarcerated simply because they were addicted at the same time as they were pregnant. A lot of them had actually tried to get treatment, but many programs wouldn’t accept women who were pregnant.” Finding such a serious issue was not coming out in the mainstream press, she decided to make a documentary about it.”

She continued, “So I made a film about it called Women of Substance. It was on PBS, and we also did a fairly extensive education outreach campaign with it, and I loved the process. So I came to filmmaking from the perspective of social advocacy more than from a love of film, but I have grown to really love film, and particularly appreciate the history of the documentary form.”

After making her first documentary, she directed and produced her first feature documentary about a struggling Appalachian family called American Hollow in 1999. The documentary made it to HBO, and it was also screened at the Sundance Film Festival. She then did a slew of socially conscious television and theatrical documentary projects. In 1999, she directed and produced two more documentaries, such as Different Moms, a story of three mentally impaired mothers, and Epidemic Africa, based on the growing number of African children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

During the 2000s, Kennedy made around two dozen documentaries, including The Changing Face of Beauty (2000), Hidden Crisis: Women & AIDS (2002), A Boy’s Life (2003), Street Fight (2005), Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007), and Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech (2009). Her 2007 historical war documentary Ghosts of Abu Ghraib — based on the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in the fall of 2003, won the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ that same year. 

In 2012, she made a documentary about her mother, Ethen Kennedy, titled Ethel, exploring her mother’s life with his father Robert F. Kennedy and how her mother raised 11 children following their father’s death. The documentary also won her several awards. 

Two years later, she made another historical war documentary, Last Days in Vietnam. It was a story about the struggle of American service members and South Vietnamese while evacuating as many friends, family members, and others before Saigon fell into the hands of the North Vietnamese in the final days of the Vietnam War. The documentary earned her’ Academy Award’ nomination in 2015.

Her other notable documentaries included The Fence (2010), Bobby Fisher Against the World (2011), Makers: Women Who Make America (2013), Take Every Wave: Laird in VR (2017), and Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow (2018)

Awards and Nominations

Kennedy was nominated for numerous awards and also won some among them for her outstanding documentaries. She received ‘Documentary Award’ for her first feature documentary, American Hollow, in 1999. For the same documentary, she also earned ‘Honorable Mention’ at Atlanta Film Festival,’ ‘Gold Hugo’ at Chicago International Film Festival, and ‘Jury Award’ at Newport International Film Festival. 

In 2007, she won the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Nonfiction Special’ for Ghost of Abu Ghraib with her fellow co-producers. She received ‘Gracie Allen Award’ twice in 2008 under the category of ‘Outstanding Director - News Series or Special’ for Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. In 2013, she won ‘Outstanding Director - News/Non-Fiction’ for Ethel.

Kennedy received the ‘Audience Award’ twice at Nantucket Film Festival under the category ‘Best Feature’ in 2012 for Ethel and in 2014 for Last Days in Vietnam. Her documentary Ethel also won her ‘Audience Award’ at Sarasota Film Festival in 2012. 

In 2015, she became director and producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam. Furthermore, Kennedy won ‘Women’s Image Network Award’ for ‘Outstanding Film Directed by a Woman’ for Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow in 2019.

In addition, she has garnered multiple nominations, including ‘International Documentary Association Award,’ ‘News & Documentary Emmy Award,’ and ‘Grand Jury Prize’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Personal Life

Kennedy married Los Angeles-based documentary films writer Mark Bailey on 2 August 1999. They together have three children. They welcomed their first child, a daughter, Georgia Elizabeth Kennedy-Bailey, in September 2002, a second daughter, Bridget Katherine Kennedy-Bailey, in July 2004, and a third child, a son, Zachary Corkland Kennedy-Bailey, in July 2007.

Net Worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kennedy has a net worth of $10 million.

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