A Conversation Between Elizabeth Banks and Laverne Cox

Sunday, June 23, 5:30 pm

In our conversation with the multi-faceted actress, director, and producer, Elizabeth Banks, we'll explore how technology and new digital platforms are changing how movies and television shows are made, produced, and distributed. Elizabeth will share her story of how she rose to become an entertainment business maven–holding development deals with nearly every major studio, creating content for film and TV, and founding WhoHaha, an digital platform for female comedians.

Elizabeth Banks


Actor, Producer, Director

Elizabeth Banks' career as an actress, producer and director continues to flourish with another prolific year ahead. She is known for roles in both comedy and drama as well as film and television. With stand-out performances in projects including "The Hunger Games" franchise, "Love & Mercy," and "The LEGO Movie." She is also a three-time Emmy nominee for her recurring roles in "30 Rock" and "Modern Family."

Banks recently wrapped directing Charlie's Angels at Sony, which she also wrote, produced and will appear in as "Bosley." She can currently be heard lending her voice again to "Wildstyle" opposite Chris Pratt in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Her newest series Shrill, starring Aidy Bryant, is premiering at the SXSW Festival and begins streaming on Hulu on March 15th. Banks produced the television series through her company Brownstone Productions which she co-owns with her husband Max Handelman. The company is best known for producing the hit Pitch Perfect franchise. Last year, she was seen in Pitch Perfect 3 reprising her role as ‘Gail.'

In 2015, Banks returned to her popular role as ‘Effie Trinket' in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2." She also appeared in a cameo role in Magic Mike XXL and in the Netflix reprisal of Wet Hot American Summer. Also in 2015 she hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live.

In 2014, Banks lent her voice as "Wyldstyle'' in box-office hit The Lego Movie. The same year she received critical acclaim in Love & Mercy for her role as Melinda Wilson opposite Paul Dano and John Cusack who both portrayed Brian Wilson.  The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was directed by Bill Pohlad.

Her feature credits include W in which Banks garnered critical-acclaim for her role as ‘First Lady Laura Bush;' her breakthrough role in the Academy Award winning film Seabiscuit, in which she starred as ‘Marcela Howard' opposite Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges; Haim Seban's Power Rangers, Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, Magic Mike XXL, Our Idiot Brother, The Details, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, People Like Us, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Man on a Ledge, The Next Three Days, Role Models, Meet Dave, Invincible, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Fred Claus, Sisters, Slither, Walk of Shame, Heights, The Baxter, The Trade, Ordinary Sinner, The Uninvited, Daltry Calhoun Sexual Life, Walk of Shame, the independent dramas Every Secret Thing and Little Accidents, John Singleton's Shaft, Columbia Pictures' three blockbuster hit franchise Spider-Man as journalist ‘Betty Brant,' and the cult hit Wet, Hot, American Summer.

On the small screen, Banks earned three Emmy Award nominations for ‘Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series' for her performances as ‘Avery Jessup' on 30 Rock and her guest appearances as ‘Sal' on ABC's Modern Family. She also appeared in a recurring role as ‘Dr. Kim Porter' on NBC's Scrubs. Banks reprised her role as ‘Lindsay' in Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and has wrapped production on Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later.  Her theater credits include many roles in American Conservatory Theatre productions, as well as the Guthrie Theater's production of "Summer & Smoke" directed by David Esbjornson. In 2006 Banks played ‘Cherie,' the female lead in William Inge's comedy "Bus Stop," as part of the Williamstown Theater Festival.

On the production side, she made her directorial debut in 2015 with Pitch Perfect 2 which was the highest opening weekend for a musical in history, the biggest opener for a first-time feature film director, and the second-largest opening for a female director. It also garnered her the ‘Breakthrough Filmmaker of the year' award at the 2015 CinemaCon Awards. With a first-look film deal at Universal and an exclusive television deal at Warner Bros. Television, her Brownstone Productions' slate includes multiple film, television and digital collaborations with Universal, Sony Pictures, Amazon, CW, ABC, Lionsgate, Netflix, HULU, and Paramount Digital. The current film slate includes Queen for a Day at Paramount Players, White Girl Problems at Lionsgate, as well as Science Fair, Red Queen and Paper Bag Princess as Universal; the latter two she is attached to direct. Brownstone's upcoming Television slate includes Hoops and Strong Justice at NBC; Patty's Auto at Fox, The Untitled Nkechi Carroll Project at ABC co-produced with Berlanti Productions; and Girl Waits with a Gun at Amazon. She made her commercial debut, directing a 2017 Superbowl television ad for detergent brand Persil. In 2017, she produced The Most Hated Woman in America starring Melissa Leo at Netflix. In the digital space the company produced Resident Advisors a digital comedy series with Paramount Digital which premiered on HULU in 2015. In 2009, Brownstone produced the sci-fi thriller The Surrogates, which starred Bruce Willis.

Originally from Massachusetts, Banks received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Graduate Degree at the American Conservatory Theater. She is involved with many charities which include LA's Best, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Planned Parenthood, The First Lady's Reach Higher Initiative, Heifer International, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and Turnaround Arts.

She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Laverne Cox


Award-Winning Transgender Actress, Producer & Equal Rights Advocate

With various 'firsts' in her already impressive career, Laverne Cox is a two time Emmy-nominated actress, Emmy winning documentary film producer and a prominent equal rights advocate. Laverne's groundbreaking role of Sophia Burset in the critically acclaimed Netflix original series "Orange is The New Black" brought her to the attention of diverse audiences all over the world. This role lead to Laverne becoming the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime acting Emmy.

An artist and an advocate with an empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically, Laverne is the first openly transgender person to appear on the covers of TIME Magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine and Essence magazines among others. She was named one of Glamour magazine’s 2014 Women of the Year. Laverne also proudly holds two SAG Awards... winning them with her Orange Is The New Black cast mates.

Laverne has been one of the faces of Beyonce’s athleisure line, Ivy Park. She also collaborated with Orly to create "Celebrate Yourself" a Limited Edition collection of nail colors and teamed up with Ted Danson for Smirnoff's "Welcome To The Fun" campaign.

Laverne’s Emmy winning documentary “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word” helped lead her to Executive Producing two powerful documentaries.

The upcoming "Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen" is an unprecedented, groundbreaking look at the depiction of transgender characters throughout the history of film and TV and "Free CeCe" which tells the story of CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who was controversially sentenced to 41 months in a men's prison for second degree manslaughter after defending herself against a racist and transphobic attack. The documentary focuses on McDonald’s case, her experiences while incarcerated and the larger implications of her case for the transgender community and for communities of color at large.

Laverne currently has several projects in development.