Jenna Kanell: Writer, Actor, Director & Ted Talk Speaker

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After spearheading Laser Pigeon Pictures LLC, Jenna Kanell delivered a TEDx Talk on their vanguard short, “Bumblebees,” about her autistic younger brother on his first date. "Bumblebees" screened at over thirty film festivals around the world, bringing Jenna and Vance to speak at numerous institutions including Harvard Medical School. More recently, she's the writer and director of “Max & The Monster,” a darkly comedic short film exploring the lasting impacts of trauma. Working for years as a SAG-AFTRA actor and stunt performer, she’s also 1st assistant directed numerous commercials and two feature films. She trains on the side as a level three in Krav Maga, and has taught her cat to do tricks.

(Click to watch TED TALK)

What do I do best?

My little brother thinks I’m not afraid of anything. He’s not completely right, but I try to hold myself to his standard of courage nonetheless. I travel alone, challenge my mind and body, and speak up with a strong voice when necessary. Even when my opinions aren’t popular.

What makes me the best version of myself?

In recent years I’ve begun a dive into existentialism; finding comfort in life’s inherent entropy and the ability to create meaning in spite of that.

What are my aspirations?

A. As an individual, I seek to further study animal welfare and give voice to the voiceless. I so hungrily want to contribute to a journey towards a harmonious world. Living should be a right, not a privilege.

B. My company Laser Pigeon Pictures LLC strives for empowerment, education, and entertainment through film. I believe in collaboration with individuals and companies representing all classes, races, gender identities, and abilities.

My Biggest Success?

I delivered a TEDx Talk when I was 24 about the concept of limits and other themes surrounding the first short film I wrote and directed about my brother Vance. A lot of the credit goes to my family, whose stories I had the honor of telling, and to the coach who helped me tell them. I actually contracted food poisoning two days before, so the real success story was that I didn’t vomit on a stage in front of 100 strangers.  

My Most Challenging Moment?

Against the wishes of all those around me I chose to forgo college, as an autodidact traveling across the country alone via Greyhound buses to live on the West Coast.

My Motto?

“Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything.”

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Nikola Tesla. He respected women and had radical visions of alternative energy before either were trendy. Not to mention we have him to thank for, among other things, x-rays, wifi, and lightbulbs, the latter of which he’s yet to receive any credit for in history books. Thanks to a cool car, people are finally hearing his name.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I’ve been luckily enough to travel a fair amount, and there lie so many more places on this Earth I’d love to set foot on. But one of my favorites so far is Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Canada. I was in Calgary for a film festival a couple years ago, and rented a car for a day to drive up there and ‘skate’ across a frozen lake in my Doc Martens, surrounded by snowy mountains.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I didn’t realize until embarrassingly recently how many types of hummus there are. My world has been rocked. Also, my Go Girl. Sometimes you’re filming exteriors and the bathroom is far away and you just want to be able to stand and do your business and get back at it. It was given to me as a gift, which either says something about me or about the company I keep or both.

My Current Passions?

I’ve recently begun giving stick and poke tattoos. I’ve done a couple simple designs on friends and a couple on myself. Let me know if you want one.