Famous Alumnae: Elizabeth Banks

Back in 1996, scrunchies were on every wrist, The Spice Girls had released their #1 hit “Wannabe,” and Mission: Impossible was the ultimate must-see in the movie theaters. Oh, and Tri Delta alum Elizabeth Banks graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communications and a minor in theatre arts from University of Pennsylvania. Pretty impressive stuff, if you ask us. Not only did Elizabeth graduate magna cum laude from her Ivy League alma mater, which is so cool in its own right, she then got a Masters of Fine Arts at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California. All while balancing her career and social life, because we just know that she was there for all the functions and sisterhood events. 

While in college, Elizabeth met her husband Max Handelman in the way we all dream of meeting our future husbands: at a party for his fraternity. It’s the classic college love story: she was the beautiful Tri Delta at a party with her sisters, having a good time, he was the cool AEPi. She says that she didn’t think he was the man she would marry when she met him, seeing as how she was 18 and in college, but they’ve now been married for 12 years and have two adorable sons named Felix and Magnus Mitchell. And, they’re kind of the ultimate #relationshipgoals of Hollywood. Together, Elizabeth and Max own Brownstone Productions, the company that produced Pitch Perfect. Not only does she co-own the company that produced the film in which she also starred, but she directed it’s sequel, Pitch Perfect 2. She directed and produced and starred in the film, because girls can do anything.

And she’s living proof of that, too. Elizabeth uses her platform as a female in the entertainment industry to speak out against the sexism in Hollywood that few people notice because no one ever talks about it. In fact, that’s a main reason Elizabeth chose to direct the sequel to the super quotable hit. If anything, sorority life teaches women that they can do anything a man can do, like start their own academic and philanthropic Greek organization. Sorority has the ability to be the ultimate girl squad, always supporting other women and encouraging them to do what they set their mind to, even if it’s a male-dominated field. And Elizabeth did just that. She talks of how inspiring it is to her when women come together to put good work together, and seeing as how Pitch Perfect was a successful comedy with a female main cast, it inspired her to direct the sequel. 

When she talks about directing, Elizabeth says that she felt “under-used” by Hollywood and wanted to do more to inspire other women. She talks about how there’s definitely “systematic issues” in Hollywood where its lack of female directors is concerned. Which, if you look at the numbers, is true. In 2014, research shows that 85% of films had no female directors. Not only that, but 92% of films had no female cinematographers, and 80% had no female writers. Elizabeth wants to change that and inspire other women to follow their dreams, so by doing that, she’s calling attention to a sexism problem a lot of people don’t even know exists. She says, “what’s great is that the conversation is happening. The beginning of all movements is just that awareness and that discussion.” By bringing this problem to light, Elizabeth is the ultimate sorority sister: she’s the girl in your pledge class that encourages you to never settle for anything less than what you want. She was probably the girl you talked to in recruitment that tells you how supportive her sisterhood is, and who wouldn’t wanna be a part of the girl power?

Not only was she probably your most supportive sister, but she was most likely the girl who shows up to every event, despite the fact that she’s also the president of the club she formed that supplies canned food to the local homeless shelter, head of her major’s academic society, works a part time job, volunteers at the animal shelter on Saturdays, and somehow maintains a 4.0 and flawless skin. Elizabeth is so dimensional and clearly a multi-tasker; she not only directed Pitch Perfect 2, but she starred in it AND produced it. She’s definitely a go-getter, and looking at her academic resume, she was most likely the girl that everyone in her pledge class begged for tutoring. And like a true Tri Delt, she steadfastly loved her sisters. 

Her hardworking, girl boss work ethic has proven her worthy of recognition. Her film career started in 1998 when she made her debut in Surrender Dorothy, and since then, her career began to take off. She’s starred in Wet Hot American Summer, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Definitely, Maybe, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2, and many more. She’s also done some television work, including guest appearances on Modern Family and 30 Rock as well as a recurring role for 3 seasons of the medical comedy Scrubs. Elizabeth has also done quite a bit of theatre work including a production of Bus Stop in which she played Cherie, a role made famous by the legend Marilyn Monroe in the film adaptation of the play. 

Elizabeth Banks is the ultimate girl boss, and her career definitely shows. Her words of wisdom for all of the girls out there who aspire to an ambitious career in their field is, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for.” She says that as women in male-dominated industries, it’s easy to be overlooked, so women must make sure that they are heard by asking for what they want. “If I love something, I’ll do whatever it takes. And all they can do is say ‘no’, and life goes on.” 


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