Elizabeth Banks (born Elizabeth Irene Mitchell; February 10, 1974) is an American actress, director, writer, and producer. She is known for playing Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games film series (2012–2015) and Gail Abernathy-McKadden in the Pitch Perfect film series (2012–2017). Banks made her directorial film debut with Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), whose $69 million opening-weekend gross set a record for a first-time director. She also directed, wrote, produced, and starred in the action comedy film Charlie’s Angels (2019).
Banks made her film debut in the low-budget independent film Surrender Dorothy (1998). She starred in the films Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), Seabiscuit (2003), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Slither (2006), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Role Models (2008), The Next Three Days (2010), Man on a Ledge (2012), What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012), The Lego Movie (2014), Love & Mercy (2014), Magic Mike XXL (2015), Power Rangers (2017), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), and Brightburn (2019).
On television, Banks had a recurring role as Avery Jessup on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, which earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. She had recurring roles on the comedy series Scrubs and Modern Family, the latter of which earned her a third Primetime Emmy Award nomination. Banks starred in the Netflix miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017). As of 2019, she hosts a revival of the 1980s game show Press Your Luck on ABC.
Banks was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and grew up on Brown Street, the eldest of four children of Ann (née Wallace) and Mark P. Mitchell. Her father, a Vietnam War veteran, was a factory worker for General Electric and her mother worked in a bank. She has said that she grew up “Irish + WASP + Catholic.” Growing up, Banks played baseball and rode horses. She was in Little League when she broke her leg sliding into third base. She then tried out for the school play, which was her start in acting.
She graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1992, and is a member of the Massachusetts Junior Classical League. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority and was elected to the Friars Senior Society. She graduated magna cum laude in 1996 with a major in communications and a minor in theater arts. In 1998, she completed schooling at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, where she earned an MFA degree.
Banks met her husband, Max Handelman, a sportswriter and producer from Portland, Oregon, on her first day of college on September 7, 1992. They were married in 2003. The couple have two sons, born via surrogate.
Banks went through parts of conversion to Judaism, her husband’s faith, and studied with rabbis. In 2013, speaking of her religion, she stated that she practices Judaism, though “I did not have my mikveh, so technically I’m not converted,” but that she has “been essentially a Jew for like 15 years,” adding “Frankly, because I’m already doing everything [practicing religious rituals], I feel like I’m as Jewish as I’m ever going to be.”
Banks was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and was involved in a rendition of Rachel Platten’s single “Fight Song” with other celebrities at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She also identifies as a feminist.