Fans adore Michala Banas so why does she fear she’ll never work again?
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.”
UPPER MIDDLE BOGAN
THURSDAY, 8.30PM, ABC Anyone with personal problems can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Explosive: Michala Banas.