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Meet Rachel Banks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Banks.

Rachel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I found my way to acting sort of by accident! I grew up in a very fun and somewhat chaotic family. As the youngest of four, with a twelve year age gap between my oldest brother and I, there wasn’t much that kept the whole family entertained. One thing we could all appreciate was watching movies. Both of my parents are BIG movie buffs. In my family you either speak in movie quotes, or you have no idea what anyone is saying. I grew up watching a little bit of everything, which looking back is probably what sparked my love of story-telling. When I was younger, I liked to play pretend and write little movies in my head where I could exist alongside my favorite characters. I would spend hours on my swing set or in my room just letting my imagination run wild.

I probably would have got into acting as a child if it weren’t for the fact I was extremely shy. I’m the kid that would tear up when they had to get in front of the class for a presentation. My Mom is also a labor and delivery nurse, so I’ve always had a fascination for medicine. I spent most of my life wanting to become a nurse, doctor, vet, really anything in scrubs.

Then in my Senior year of high school, after a very thought-provoking trip, I was sure I wanted to be a pediatrician. I wanted to work with a non-profit and travel the world to areas that needed more doctors. I really enjoy meeting new people and learning about their own unique stories and I wanted to specifically help children. So I spent the next two years pouring myself into my plan and trying to get through my schooling as fast as possible. Not too long into my studies, I had a revelation that maybe this wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I do have a deep respect and appreciation for the medical field, but on the nights where I felt exhausted or overwhelmed, I just wanted to curl up with the classic comfort movies I watched growing up.

In that moment, the seed was planted and for the next year I struggled to decide whether or not to keep on the path I had set out for myself, or try something that I felt compelled to do.

In the end, I decided to go for it and that is what landed me in Los Angeles at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. My childhood best friend was flying to LA to tour the school since she had already been accepted and offered to let me go with her so I could audition. Unfortunately, it took me a while to make up my mind and I only had two weeks to prepare, but with her help I was able to fly down, audition and ended up getting accepted! From there, I fell in love with acting and the more I do it, the more I know that taking that leap of faith was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Has it been a smooth road?
Definitely not! There have been a lot of struggles along the way and things I still struggle with. When I brought up the idea of being an actor to my parents, they weren’t exactly thrilled and really tried to discourage me from doing it. There is a lot more difficulty in establishing a career in acting than in medicine, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve always been really close with them so it was hard to feel like I was isolated. However since graduating they have become my biggest fans and I feel really fortunate to have their love and support now.

I think the biggest difficulty I’ve faced, not only in acting but in every aspect of my life, has been myself. I am still pretty shy when it comes to opening up. Coming to the Academy, I really didn’t know if I would even like acting or being in Los Angeles and I almost decided not to go. Now after graduating I’m waiting for auditions and not knowing whether or not I booked something. On top of that trying not to worry about how an audition went or whether or not a performance was enjoyable. In every situation, I’ve had the little voices in the back of my mind trying to discourage and hold me back. In the end, it always takes pushing past myself to be who I authentically am and accept every part of that. As with any challenge, some days are easier than others, but it helps me to remember why I love acting so much. As I mentioned before, I love story-telling, and I was inspired by so many stories growing up, I would love to be able to do that for someone else. It also helps that I have an amazing support system of friends and family.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Since graduating and starting out during this crazy time in life, I have had a lot of really awesome opportunities! I signed with my first agency which I’m super excited about, and I have had good luck with auditioning. I am also working on my own projects with friends to keep creative while things slowly begin to open back up. I’m really excited to see what opportunities present themselves in the future and where this next chapter will lead me!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
There are so many things I love about Los Angeles! I grew up in Seattle, Washington where it has a tendency to rain, so the sunshine 365 days a year is amazing! I also love the diversity and atmosphere of this city. It almost feels like there’s a heartbeat, making everything feel alive. When I’m here, I feel like I’m a part of something which pushes me to try things and express myself.

I think the biggest thing I dislike about LA is the traffic and the air quality. Seattle has really fresh air but in all honesty, the traffic is pretty similar. I also really miss the seasons back home. The Fall in Seattle is gorgeous! I do love Los Angeles though and I would take sunshine over rain any day.

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Image Credit:
www.KennethDolin.com

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