The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation announced today that actress, director, and producer Elizabeth Banks will receive the 2019 Pioneer of the Year Award on September 25, 2019 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Banks is the first female director to receive the honor.
The Pioneer of the Year Award is given to a respected member of the motion picture community whose professional leadership, service, and commitment to philanthropy is exemplary. Banks will receive the Award at the Pioneer of the Year Dinner – the annual fundraiser benefiting the WRMPPF’s Pioneers Assistance Fund (PAF) which provides financial support and services to individuals in the theatrical entertainment community who are encountering an illness, injury or a life-changing event. There wasn’t a Pioneer of the Year Dinner at CinemaCon in Las Vegas back in April because the event was moved to Beverly Hills this fall.
Banks’ filmography counts $5.6 billion at the global box office. She made her feature directorial debut with Universal’s Pitch Perfect 2 which beat Warner Bros. tentpole Mad Max Fury Road in their opening domestic weekend with $69M with the sequel finaling at $287M WW. Banks is currently directing, producing, co-writing and starring as Bosley in her continuation of Charlie’s Angels (Nov. 15) for Sony Pictures, which follows a new generation of Angels. In 2002, Banks launched her own production company, Brownstone Productions. She also produced Walt Disney Pictures’ Surrogates starring Bruce Willis, Dreamworks’ Forever 21, and Universal Pictures’ Pitch Perfect franchise and Too Far From Home.
As an actress, Banks’ canon includes The Hunger Games, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Seabiscuit, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Man On A Ledge, What To Expect When You’re Expecting, Oliver Stone’s W, The Lego Movie, Love & Mercy, Magic Mike XXL, Power Rangers, Wet Hot American Summer, among many others.
She is an advocate for women, including a number of female empowerment, health and rights issues. Banks participates in a number of charitable organizations including American Foundation for AIDS Research, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, LA’s Best, Malaria No More, March of Dimes, Milk + Bookies, Stand Up To Cancer, Time’s Up and Women’s March Los Angeles.
Last year Tom Cruise was the Pioneer of the Year, the first actor ever to be bestowed with the top honor in the 83-year history of the organization which effectively takes care of its own and those most in need. Past Pioneer of the Year honorees include Dick Cook, Cecil B. DeMille, Michael D. Eisner, Jim Gianopulos, Alan Horn, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Donna Langley, Sherry Lansing, Frank G. Mancuso, Sumner Redstone, Terry Semel, Tom Sherak, Jack Valenti, Jack Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Cheryl Boone Isaacs and last year’s honoree, Tom Cruise.
“We are delighted to recognize Elizabeth’s achievements in the motion picture industry with this well-deserved honor,” said Kyle Davies, president of WRMPPF and president of domestic distribution at Paramount Pictures. “Her contributions to the film business as an actress, director, and producer, along with her tremendous advocacy and support of women in our community and beyond, demonstrates leadership, vision, and inspires audiences everywhere. We look forward to celebrating Elizabeth’s career achievements and philanthropic contributions at the Pioneer of the Year Dinner, as well as raising much needed funds for the Pioneers Assistance Fund.”