Always Greener: articles

They're bananas over Banas

It's always a little bit of shock to hear a New Zealander with an Aussie accent.

But you can't blame actress Michala Banas. The 23-year-old star of Always Greener might have been born in Wellington but she's lived more than half her life across the ditch.

"I let everyone know I'm a New Zealander," she says with the sort of cadence a cockatoo would be proud of. "And I'm still a New Zealand citizen."

A fair dinkum kiwi then.

Banas moved to Australia with her family at age 10 when her father, New Zealand actor-writer-director John Banas, decided to seek directing work across the Tasman.

The family stayed after Banas, who had been a manager of Wellington's Downstage Theatre for a number of years, found the jobs kept coming.

He now writes for Australian television and recently picked up his second gong from the Australian Writers Guild for his script work on Water Rats.

Michala is the only one of his three kids to follow him into a full-time showbiz career—and it began early.

Her first television appearance was in a commercial when she was just 18 months old. Her first big break came at 16 when she landed a role in Mirror, Mirror, a children's drama made by Wellington's Gibson Group production house.

She was nominated for best young actress award for her performance at the 1996 New Zealand Television Awards.

Since then she has had numerous guest roles in various Australian shows, including Blue Heelers. She also has a minor role in the new film of the old cartoon show, Scooby-Doo.

But she counts Always Greener—in which she plays the Taylor's stroppy, 18-year-old Marissa—as her first major role as an adult.

The show's success has come as a pleasant surprise, too.

"When we shot the pilot, we knew it was a great little show and I remember saying to one of the producers 'I think this show is either going to really take off or people aren't going to get it'."

"The night it aired on television was absolutely petrifying. I was so passionate about the show it was like 'oh God, what if they don't like it'?"

Apparently they did and they liked Banas in particular. The fair dinkum kiwi picked up a nomination for most popular new female talent at this year's Logies, Australia's television awards.

July 11, 2002
New Zealand Herald