Far from Hollywood's bright lights, Elizabeth Banks grew up in a working-class town with no idea of how exciting her life would turn out when she became one of her generation's highest-paid actresses.
In fact, it took a freak injury during a high school softball game to steer Banks away from competitive athletics and onto a theatre stage, where she became especially known for her comedic performances as an actress. After receiving her MFA from the elite American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Banks made her movie debut in the gender-twisting drama "Surrender Dorothy" in 1998. With more than 250 industry credits to her name now, audiences have most likely seen her as the sassy make-up and creative manager in "The Hunger Games" or in comedies like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” On television, Banks has also had recurring roles in a handful of hit comedies, including NBC's "30 Rock," which earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. More recently, Banks made her directorial debut with "Pitch Perfect 2" in 2015. An unqualified success, the film had the highest ever opening weekend for a musical and was the second-largest opening for a female director.
At UPenn, Banks majored in communications with a concentration in theater arts. This allowed her to dig deep into Shakespearean texts via the university's theater classes, thus helping her to establish an essential foundation for her later career as a professional actress. In addition to classroom work, Banks also used her Ivy League experience to branch out socially. At UPenn she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority and was elected to the Friars Senior Society. In 1996, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
After graduation, Banks has returned to her alma mater on multiple occasions. Over the years, the actress has become known for taking time out of her hectic schedule to offer access and interviews to the UPenn community, especially concerning her upcoming projects in Hollywood. In 2016, the actress was back on campus for an altogether different reason: Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Banks, a diehard Democrat, brought some of her star power back to the UPenn community for multiple campus events, including giving an energetic talk to the packed LGBT Center.