You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Elizabeth Banks: ‘I Had More to Offer an Industry That Clearly Didn’t Expect Too Much’

After breaking records with “Pitch Perfect 2,” Elizabeth Banks added another laurel and gave an inspiring message to teen girls as she was honored at Step Up’s Inspiration Awards Friday at the Beverly Hilton.

Step Up’s after-school mentorship programs serve teen girls to help encourage them to finish high school. MC Cristela Alonzo announced that for the sixth consecutive year, 100% of Step Up’s active seniors graduated high school and have been accepted to college.

Pitch Perfect 2’s” Ester Dean and Skylar Astin introduced their director, sharing that she started working at the age of 12 because someone discovered that she wore the same pants to school every day. Her motto: You won’t get what you don’t ask for. “Our movie grossed $69 million opening weekend and set box office records for a first-time director. We hope this inspires women directors and maybe some Step Up girls to follow in Elizabeth Banks’ shoes,” said Dean.

Banks discussed her visit with Step Up girls at Los Angeles’ Gertz-Ressler High School. “They have incredible aspirations, they have ambitions, they have these beautiful dreams,” she said.

“But I also learned a bit about the boxes and labels that they feared might threaten those dreams. They were worried that nobody expected them to be anything beyond Latina, female, high school student, mother. They obviously knew they could be much, much more. And they didn’t want to be limited or defined by a few labels,” Banks said.

Banks said that Hollywood is not much different when it comes to typecasting. “Specifically for the last 15 years, I think I’ve been in this box that just said, ‘Cute blond actress, kind of funny, small boobs.'”

So Banks did something about it. She founded Brownstone Productions with her husband Max Handelman, and produced “Pitch Perfect.” When director Jason Moore was unavailable to film the sequel, Banks stepped up. “On top of acting, I started producing and directing because I knew I had more to offer an industry that clearly didn’t expect too much from me,” she said.

“So like the young women at Gertz, I don’t like being defined by those labels or by others, and I don’t like limits,” Banks continued before getting in a well-deserved pat on the back for her film’s success. “As for people’s low expectations, those I like. Because those allow an opportunity to surprise people … like ‘Pitch Perfect 2’s’ $69 million did. Thank you all for those who bought tickets!”

Banks ended with a note of advice to the Step Up girls: “You should fight to expand not just others’ ideas of what you should be, but your own. You should surprise yourself.”

Step Up’s Inspiration Awards gala raised more than $400,000 and also honored Hudson Jeans CEO Peter Kim and graduating senior Maria Soto.

(Pictured: Skylar Astin, Elizabeth Banks and Ester Dean of “Pitch Perfect 2” at Step Up’s Inspiration Awards gala)

More Scene

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content