Zandara Kennedy is a Hollywood stunt driver, stunt coordinator, precision driver, and the only Canadian athlete competing in professional drifting. Zandara will compete in Formula Drift Pro Spec in 2023. She’s appeared in several major films to include X-Men: Days of Future Past, Doomsday and RoboCop, The Adam Project and more.
She sat down with Industry Rules to discuss her career and her Formula Drift Pro Spec opportunity.
AF: How have you been since the world’s COVID-19 pandemic has subsided?
ZK: I think unlike some other industries, in the film industry, for the people who were established, it got extremely busy for the time that the pandemic was really at its peak – I think I worked at least 80 hours a week from August of 2020 to December of 2021, so it was nice to slow down my working pace a little bit and shift my focus back to drifting once the restrictions eased and I was able to travel internationally again. Racing is a lot more accessible in the US than in Canada where I do a lot of my work, and having fans be able to attend races is such an important part of the experience.
AF: How did you get into Hollywood as a stunt driver?
ZK: I started off pursuing a career in stunts in general, after growing up doing gymnastics, trampoline and circus and initially wanting a career in Cirque du Soleil. Once I got a motorcycle license and worked as a motorcycle courier, I found out that Stunts was a job that I might be able to do and I pursued it very aggressively for quite a few years before getting my first opportunities.
As a part of building my skill set for stunts in general, I started to train and focus on driving in particular. I liked it so much that I dedicated most of my time and resources to improving my skills and training in different disciplines. My dedication didn’t go unnoticed, and I was given a few opportunities to show what I could do, which led to further opportunities. I’m very proud of the career that I have been able to build.
AF: What are some of the challenges you’ve face when you started in the industry. How did you overcome those said challenges?
ZK: The film industry in general is a rather tight -knit community, and many people get their first opportunities through family connections or their extended network, so working to connect with people and build a reputation took time and consistency. It’s a big deal to take a chance on someone new for a stunt opportunity, as there is a lot on the line, and that’s where time, consistency, and continuing to build my skills were the key to establishing myself.
Also, at the time when I started, it was still common for men to do driving jobs for female characters. This practice has definitely gotten a lot less common in the last decade as there has been a strong push and focus on having appropriate stunt doubles, which has created a need for more women with a more diverse skill set.
AF: What has been your hardest stunt to negotiate? What did you learn from that experience?
ZK: Every major stunt has unique components that make it a challenge, and generally I learn something from each stunt. I try to reflect every time on what went well and what could have been better. In my experience, the best stunts always go well because of clear communication between performers and between departments as well.
AF: We know that you completed a 20,000-mile tour of the United States and drifted at over 16 different racetracks. Can you take us through the preparation process of Formula Drift. Can you explain the adrenaline rush?
ZK: Formula Drift is an entirely new endeavor for me – from planning the build of the car to managing my training, building a team to support me at the track and planning the travel and logistics for everyone. There’s no bigger stage for drifting in the world, and I’m both very excited and nervous about what’s to come.
My 2022 drift tour was all to prepare for Formula Drift – to learn what could go wrong on the road, on a team, and for me, and what we might need to prepare for.
The adrenaline rush of competing is actually one of the simplest parts of the whole process, because my brain is entirely focused on driving – there’s no space to wonder if the flights were booked or what the crew is going to eat for dinner – it’s just pure performance.
AF: What’s next for your career and how can people find you for business opportunities?
ZK: In between preparing for Formula Drift and doing stunt driving jobs to pay for racing, I’m excited to be working with Racing Pride, Athlete Ally, and the Della Penna NexGen foundation to promote diversity and representation in motorsports.
I’d love to hear from people interested in supporting myself or these very important ventures through my LinkedIn, Instagram (@zeedrives), or website (zeedrives.com).
Photos by Tommy Flanagan