Morwenna Banks - writer, actor, producer and all-round entertainment-extraordinaire
gave a talk to sixth form students on the 28th November 2016
This week, the Sixth Form assembly was led by writer, actor, producer and all-round entertainment-extraordinaire Morwenna Banks. Standing on a box to be seen, Banks is nonetheless a giant in the industry, having acted in and written some of the nation’s most beloved television shows. Her diverse roles include Anthea Stonem in Channel 4’s acclaimed Skins and Mummy Pig in Peppa Pig (both were met with equally rapturous applause from the Sixth Form, strangely enough). Though Banks began to muse on her tendency to characterise “Druggy, slutty mums...apart from Mummy Pig obviously”, it became evident that she has, in fact, a huge repertoire of varied roles in a broad range of genres. Examples include roles in Barbie A Christmas Carol, the 2016 comedy series Damned, The Thick of It and Shameless.
Alongside her acting, Banks has written films such as last year’s Miss You Already and radio plays like Goodbye - on which the film was based - and has produced various other projects. With so many roles within the industry (she has three agents, no less), her weekly schedule is incredibly diverse, involving pitching concepts for radio plays, acting, writing commissioned scripts and providing her voice to animation studios. A brief recount of her career path details her studying English at Robinson College Cambridge, where she became involved in the Cambridge drama society Footlights, and found her way onto the cast of Absolutely, a Channel 4 comedy sketch series.
Through her tales of rejected obscene scripts and acting along Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live, Banks spoke powerfully about the need to find your own voice, regardless of subject, and staying true to it. In her case, this was largely about the under-representation of female comedians (she has written books on the subject) and her drive to address gender complexities. She spoke of the resilience necessary to survive the competition and judgement of television industry, though was confident in saying that young people have a greater chance than ever to establish themselves with the opportunities and access available.
Perhaps her most poignant moment came in the quote by Nelson Mandela which she delivered: “There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” In any case, at the very least the Sixth Form was thrilled to meet one of their favourite TV characters in the flesh, though whether that was the Mum from Skins or Mummy Pig, I’m still not sure.
Joe, Sixth Form Senior Prefect