Olivia Wilde presents a keynote speech at SXSW 2019.

SXSW 2019: Olivia Wilde Talks ‘Booksmart’

Olivia Wilde isn’t just an actress you’ve seen on a TV show or a comedy film. She has recently added the role of director to her Hollywood resume! Her directorial film debut Booksmart had its premiere at South By Southwest (SXSW) on March 11 and it kicked off with a fantastic start. Olivia Wide and her cast attended the SXSW Film Festival and even held two panels in addition to the screening. Olivia Wilde prepared a speech for her keynote panel, which we live-tweeted, and she and her cast had a sit-down panel with Q&A from the audience.



Olivia Wilde is a modern-day Renaissance woman with a resume ranging from director, to actress, producer, and activist. Wilde has starred in a range films including MeadowlandHerRush, and Drinking Buddies and has worked with some of the biggest directors in Hollywood including Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and Reed Morano. Additionally, she has directed music videos for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. She was named one of the “Ten Directors To Watch” by Variety.

Booksmart synopsis

Official movie poster for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut "Booksmart"
Credit: Annapurna Pictures, Gloria Sanchez Productions

Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school friendships and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation.

Keynote Panel Recap

Starting out

Olivia Wilde was like many people who wanted to get their foot into the acting industry. She took up a lot of skills and performed as much as possible. She was the theater kid in her family growing up.

Transition to Directing

Olivia started out as an assistant for casting director Mali Finn, and did break into the acting industry. She starred in several TV shows such as the medical drama House and in movies such as TRON: Legacy and Drinking Buddies. For the comedy Drinking Buddies, Olivia worked as an executive producer and when it premiered here at SXSW, she knew she wanted to take the next step: to become a director.


What makes Olivia’s directorial film so special? Well, for starters, it’s a movie about two smart female teenagers. It’s got a full female leading cast.

Directing Experience & Advice

Olivia segues her keynote speech from making Booksmart to giving advice based on her experiences.


Bojack Horseman

What was a technical challenge shooting Booksmart?

A student in the audience who attends a university that does not have a film college asks Wilde for advice on how to break into the industry.

How do you find amazing people to work with?

How do you define success?

Booksmart will release in theaters on Friday, May 24. Make sure to buy your tickets soon!

Featured image credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

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