Hero Bo­gan’s

Fans adore Michala Banas so why does she fear she’ll never work again?

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

AM­BER Wheeler is like an un­det­o­nated ex­plo­sive.

Tightly-coiled and im­pa­tient, she can, with­out warn­ing, be­gin hurl­ing ver­bal grenades. She could be un­der­wa­ter with a mouth full of mar­bles, but Am­ber would still be ca­pa­ble of drop­ping an f-bomb or three and then let­ting rip with an almighty burp. Her acid tongue and abil­ity to com­pletely dis­arm peo­ple with blunt truth has made her a fan favourite on the ABC’s Up­per Mid­dle Bo­gan.

For those yet to dis­cover the sit­com, it be­gan with up­per mid­dle class Bess Den­yar (An­nie May­nard) in­ad­ver­tently dis­cov­er­ing she’s the biological daugh­ter of Wayne (Glenn Rob­bins) and Julie Wheeler (Robyn Mal­colm), who run a drag rac­ing team in the outer sub­urbs and are par­ents to foul­mouthed Am­ber (Banas).

The im­pact of two worlds col­lid­ing was il­lus­trated poignantly when Bess, upon meet­ing with the Wheel­ers, was star­tled by Am­ber’s in­abil­ity to con­trol her gas emis­sions. “It’s not my fault,” Am­ber protested when ev­ery­one turned to her in hor­ror. “I get f.....n’ re­flux”.

That Banas is so im­pres­sive in Bo­gan should come as no sur­prise.

Her strength in pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing Al­ways Greener, McLeod’s Daugh­ters,

Bea­cons­field and Win­ners and Losers has been her ca­pac­ity to de­pict hu­man frailty. She tri­umphs again in Bo­gan, dis­creetly de­liv­er­ing clues that Am­ber’s brash­ness is a de­fence mech­a­nism to con­ceal vul­ner­a­bil­ity and in­se­cu­rity.

As tal­ented as she is, how­ever, Banas is acutely aware that un­em­ploy­ment in the act­ing business is an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard. “I’m so scared that at any given mo­ment it (ca­reer) could all stop,” Banas says. “I have just done a role in (new se­ries) Nowhere Boys. Tech­ni­cally, I’m un­em­ployed now. It could turn out to be my last job, ever.

“I get scared my luck is about to run out be­cause it’s some­one else’s turn (to win a role), god for­bid! I did an act­ing course with Ellen Burstyn and she was in her eight­ies and say­ing she still wor­ries she won’t get another job. Think­ing like that just comes with be­ing an ac­tor.”

Given the va­garies of the pro­fes­sion, it’s no shock that many ac­tors strug­gle for equi­lib­rium in their lives.

Banas is hap­pily mar­ried to ac­tor Kade Green­land, but there have been times in the past she has bat­tled de­pres­sion.

Ini­tially, she was shocked to find her­self lost in a dense, de­pres­sive mist be­cause she had ev­ery rea­son to feel elated. Banas de­scribes the ex­pe­ri­ence as “like a long, bad dream” that she wouldn’t wish on her worst en­emy.

She agreed to ap­pear on the ABC’s re­cent men­tal health fundraiser Fri­day

Night Crack Up be­cause she wanted to play her part in en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to talk about men­tal ill­ness and to seek pro­fes­sional help where nec­es­sary.

Banas sought ther­apy to work through her own is­sues.

“I didn’t know why I was feel­ing so ter­ri­ble. I had a re­ally tough time and didn’t know what it was. My fam­ily was a huge help … It was im­por­tant for me to hear Mum say, ‘It’s OK to feel like this’.

“You’ve got to be vul­ner­a­ble, ex­pose your­self when you work in this in­dus­try. When I’m act­ing, I’m bring­ing el­e­ments of my­self to ev­ery role I play. I think it’s why ther­apy is so good for ac­tors be­cause you do go to some pretty dark places.”


THURS­DAY, 8.30PM, ABC Any­one with per­sonal prob­lems can phone Life­line on 13 11 14.

Pic­ture: Jake Nowakowski

Ex­plo­sive: Michala Banas.

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