Actor, Cameo & Crew Profiles
> Actor Profiles >
Played: Libby Kennedy #2
Michala Elizabeth Laurinda Banas was born in Wellington, New Zealand on November 14th 1978 to actor, John Banas and his wife, Laurinda. Sister to Leon, Alexis & Claudia, Michala made her small-screen debut at just 18 months old, appearing in a Labour Party election campaign ad in New Zealand and soon a career developed, following her father around the country looking for work in commercials, movies and musicals with her brothers. Michala’s first role of note was in the children’s television series, Mirror Mirror, which her father directed, leading to inevitable comments about nepotism. In a 2002 interview with The Age, John revealed that “People thought dad got her the job but that wasn’t true. It was an Australian, New Zealand and Canadian co-production and it went to Canada for the producers to decide and they chose her.” A decision that was soon justified as her performance earned her a nomination for New Zealand’s Best Young Actress award at the age of 15.
Moving to Queensland for her final two years of high school, Michala was one of four out of 120 girls at the private girl’s school who didn’t go to university, deciding instead to move to Melbourne to continue her acting career. She did just that and guest roles in popular shows, Blue Heelers, Home and Away, Round the Twist and The Saddle Club soon followed as well as the role of Carol in 2002 movie, Scooby-Doo.
Michala’s biggest break came in 2001 when she landed to regular part of Marissa Taylor in Channel Seven drama, Always Greener, a role which meant she had just 11 days to pack up and move to Sydney, driving there with fellow Melburnian actors’ Bree Walters, whom she would share a flat with, and her later Neighbours co-star, Scott Major, who played her love interest, Tom Morgan.
A talented musician, playing both the piano and guitar, Michala released a 2003 song, Kissin’ The Wind which reached number 28 in the ARIA Singles Chart.
Following the cancellation of Always Greener in 2003, Michala soon found a new role as Kate Manfredi in Australia’s most popular drama series at the time, McLeod’s Daughters. First appearing in 2004, Kate quickly became involved with local vet, Dave Brewer, played by her later Neighbours beau, Brett Tucker. Leaving the show in its final season in 2008, Michala quickly took a guest role as Megan McKean in comedy series, The Mansion.
On August 11th 2008, Neighbours Executive Producer and former Executive Producer of McLeod’s Daughters, Susan Bower announced that Michala would temporarily take over the role of Libby Kennedy from Kym Valentine whilst she recovered from pneumonia and a collapsed lung. Having just four days to get into the mind of a character who had been played by Kym for 14 years, Michala gladly accepted the advice of the woman who lived and breathed the character, watching old episodes together and swapping notes, picking up aspects of Libby’s character on the way and pointers such as not knocking on the door of Libby’s parents' house, but simply walking in.
Following completing her month on Neighbours, Michala headed back to New Zealand to spend some time with her family and pet Jack Russell, Spike before heading back to Melbourne to rehearse for her roles as Kate Monster and Lucy T Slut in the national tour of Tony Award winning Best Musical, Avenue Q, debuting in Melbourne on 4th June 2009 before moving on to Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Wellington and Auckland.
Profile by Callum