Jennifer C. Lilly ’96 died on December 23, 2021, in Brooklyn, New York.
(The following was provided by the New York Times on January 21, 2022)
Jennifer Copeland Lilly (48) passed away peacefully in the early hours of December 23, 2021—family by her side, hands held close. An award-winning film editor, she possessed an eye for design, a passion for museums, and an inexhaustible dedication to family. She also managed to achieve Hoosier, Mainer, and New Yorker status all in a single lifetime.
Born June 5, 1973, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Jen spent memorable childhood summers on the waters and porches of Lake Wawasee. Later, she participated in the Greek Summer program at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, which emphasizes community service and environmental stewardship. Attending as a student, counselor, then director, she developed a lasting love for Greek culture. At Bowdoin College, Jen immersed herself in dance, gender studies, studio arts, and the glory of Maine’s endless coastline. Many friendships were forged at the student-run radio station WBOR. True to her behind-the-scenes nature, she rarely spoke during shows, content to simply spin the finest in dream pop and shoegaze.
Following graduation, it was time to conquer New York City. By chance, Jen landed a gig as production assistant on a studio blockbuster film, but quickly found her true home in the editing room. She learned her trade from scratch in the era of flatbed editing machines and celluloid. Toiling as apprentice, then assistant, she traversed the cutting rooms of New York’s most iconic auteurs—from Scorsese to Lumet. Jen additionally lent her talents to service organizations, producing and editing films that sought to bring recognition to marginalized groups in Romania and Zambia. The strength and dignity of the people she met informed her perspective and continued to inspire her daily.
As an editor of independent features, Jen was invited to the Sundance Institute’s Directors Lab to collaborate with up-and-coming filmmakers workshopping debut projects. One unanticipated development was meeting another Lab attendee, cinematographer Andrew Reed. Undoubtedly intoxicated by the thin mountain air, the adventurous world traveler somehow fell for this introverted homebody. By February 2013, they were married, settling in Brooklyn. Son Theo arrived June 2014, followed by daughter Maddie in December 2016—the greatest gifts either parent would ever receive.
Meanwhile, Jen’s artistry flourished. Her increasingly ambitious projects became festival favorites from Sundance to Berlin. To Bo Burnham’s award-winning EIGHTH GRADE, she delivered an uncanny degree of empathy and understanding. Ever versatile, she brought both hilarity and startling intimacy to all three seasons of MASTER OF NONE, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing in 2017. Jennifer’s career, built on tenacity and talent, was momentous, but tragically abbreviated. We are all the lesser for it.
Jen is survived by her parents, Deborah (Wood) and Eli Lilly II, her sister, Rebecca Lilly, her brothers, Eric Lilly and James Lilly, and eight nieces and nephews. Her adoring husband, Andrew, and their extraordinary children Theodore (7) and Madeleine (5) will love her forever.