Magda Szubanski

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Magda Szubanski
File:Magda Szubanski 2013.jpg
Szubanski at Tropfest 2013
Born Magdalene Mary Szubanski
(1961-04-12) 12 April 1961 (age 58)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Education Siena College
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Years active 1986-present
Notable work Esme Cordelia Hoggett in Babe (1995) and its 1998 sequel
Voice of Miss Viola in Happy Feet (2006)
Television Fast Forward (1989-1992)
Kath and Kim (2002-2007)
Parent(s) Zbigniew Szubanski (father)
Margaret Szubanski (mother)
Relatives 2 siblings

Magdalene Mary[1] "Magda" Szubanski (born 12 April 1961) is an English-born Australian television and film actress, comedian and writer.[2]

Szubanski's career began while she was studying at university and she progressed to television sketch comedy, as both a writer and performer. She has performed in the television comedy programs The D-Generation, Fast Forward, and the very popular Kath & Kim where she played Sharon Strzelecki.

Szubanski portrayed Esme Hoggett in the film Babe and its sequel Babe: Pig in the City, and played the recurring character of Furlow on the television series Farscape. Her book, a tell-all memoir was release in 2016, entitled "Reckoning" and won for "book of the year" at the Australian Book Industry Awards[3]

Life and career

Early life

File:Magda Szubanski (Sharon Strzelecki) at Kath & Kimderella movie premiere.jpg
Szubanski at the Kath & Kimderella film premiere, August 2012

Szubanski was born 12 April 1961 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England.[4] Her father, Zbigniew Szubanski, came from a well-off Polish family. According to Szubanski her father was an assassin in a counter-intelligence branch of the Polish resistance movement in World War II.[5][6][7][8] She immigrated to Australia in 1965 with her brother, sister and parents, where they lived in the Melbourne suburb of Croydon. She attended high school at Siena College, Melbourne,[5] and later studied fine arts and philosophy at the University of Melbourne.[9]

In 1976, as a year 10 student, she captained a team on the television quiz It's Academic.[10]

File:Sharon Strzelecki (7879439094).jpg


In 1985, while performing in a University of Melbourne Law Revue of Too Cool for Sandals, with Michael Veitch and Tom Gleisner, Szubanski was talent-spotted by producers from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation network, who convinced her to join up with some other university friends in creating a television sketch comedy show, The D-Generation.[11]

Szubanski was part of the team that created the television sketch comedy Fast Forward for the Seven Network, in which she played various characters, including Pixie-Anne Wheatley, Chenille, Sharon Strzelecki (Kath & Kim), Mary MacGregor, Joan Kirner, Lynne Postlethwaite and other characters. In 1995, she wrote, produced and starred in Big Girl's Blouse. She had a starring role in the 1995 international hit film Babe as Esme Hoggett. She reprised her role in the 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.

Szubanski starred as Margaret O'Halloran in the Dogwoman series of TV films in 2000. She began her role on Kath & Kim as Sharon in 2002 and she continued in the subsequent seasons, including the special Da Kath & Kim Code. In 2006, she hosted a five-part series on the Nine Network, called Magda's Funny Bits, which showed "never-before-seen" footage of some of her most famous characters from the comedy show Fast Forward. Branded as "no frills", it attracted insufficient ratings and did not continue. She had a similar short-lived result as host of the Network Ten clip show The Spearman Experiment in 2009.

In 2007, she had a minor role as the house maid in The Golden Compass to Lyra Belacqua. She also voiced the character Miss Viola from the Academy Award-winning animated feature Happy Feet. In 2007, she played the part of William Barfee in the musical called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. In 2008, she played the role of Big Jule in a major stage production of Guys and Dolls. In 2010, she appeared in the film Bran Nue Dae as Roadhouse Betty.

Other projects

Szubanski became a spokesperson for the dieting company Jenny Craig in November 2008.[12] Szubanski joined Jenny Craig weighing 110 kg, and had been diagnosed with sleep apnoea.[12] By July 2009, she had lost 36 kg to weigh 85 kg.[13] She later regained weight, then was dropped as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. However, subsequent weight loss led to her being re-signed as their spokesperson. She was later again dropped from Jenny Craig. She was also featured in commercials for Telstra in 2014.

Szubanski's autobiography, Reckoning, was released in 2015.

Personal life

On 14 February 2012, Szubanski came out, hinting that she was gay in a statement supporting same-sex marriage timed to coincide with Valentine's Day. Later that day, she stated that she "absolutely identifies as gay" in an interview on Australian TV current affairs program The Project.[14][15][16] Szubanski also spoke at the 2012 Sydney Mardi Gras after party, wearing a shirt featuring her newly coined slogan "If there was a tablet that cured gayness… I wouldn’t take it."[17]



  • The D-Generation (1986–1987) – various characters
  • The D-Generation Goes Commercial (1988) – various characters
  • Fast Forward (1989–1992) – Pixie-Anne Wheatley, Chenille, Joan Kirner, Mary McGregor, Maggie T + Satan's Brides
  • Bligh (1992) – Betsy Bligh
  • Full Frontal (1993) – various characters
  • The Making of Nothing (1993) – Judith Gates/Kim Borrodale
  • A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy (1993) – Mr Cardigan, Mr Trouser, Bill Kelty
  • Big Girl's Blouse (1994) – herself, Sharon Karen Strzelecki, Lynne Postlethwaite
  • The Search for Christmas (1995) – herself
  • The Genie from Down Under (1996) – Doris
  • Good Guys, Bad Guys (1997) – Bella Bouvier
  • Something Stupid (1998) – various characters
  • Farscape (1999–2001) – Furlow
  • Dogwoman (2000–2001) – Margaret O'Halloran
  • Kath & Kim (2002–2007) – Sharon Karen Strzelecki, Lorraine Craig
  • Magda's Funny Bits (2006) – Mary McGregor, Chenille, Sharon Karen Strzelecki, Lynne Postlethwaite
  • The Spearman Experiment (2009) – Host
  • Who Do You Think You Are? (2010) – herself
  • Rake (2014) – Helen
  • Legit (2014) – Anne Jefferies
  • It's a Date (2014) – Mary-Angela
  • Open Slather (2015) – various characters
  • Stop Laughing... This Is Serious (2015) – herself





  1. Szubanski, Magda. "Magda Szubanski on Twitter: "I love Wikipedia but gosh there are some inaccuracies! My middle name is Mary - NOT Mariana!! #whowritesthisstuff"". Twitter. Retrieved 9 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Knox, David (26 November 2010). "Comedy masks Magda's pain". Retrieved 6 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Susan Wyndham. "Magda Szubanski's memoir Reckoning finds its place in the world of winners". Sydney Morning Herald.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916–2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Craven, Peter (10 November 2007). "There's something about Magda". The Age. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. McMahon, Kate (15 February 2012). "Magda Szubanski had suicidal thoughts over sexuality". Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Szubanski, Magda (18 March 2014). "Reclaiming Fear". The Moth. Retrieved 23 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Alumni". University of Melbourne. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Burnstock, Tammy. "It's Academic – Episode 40: Curator's notes". Australian Screen. National Film and Sound Archive, Australia. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Magda Szubanski (Mondo Things: Cheat Notes, episode 30)". Mondo Things. ABC. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Park, Nicky (24 December 2008). "Weight no longer a joke for Magda Szubanski". Brisbane Times. AAP. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Browne, Rachel (1 November 2009). "The risks and rewards of celebrity slimmers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Szubanski comes out, calls for gay marriage". Ninemsn. 14 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Magda Szubanski in Valentine's Day plea for gay marriage". The Daily Telegraph. 14 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Magda Szubanski 'absolutely' identifies as gay". The Daily Telegraph. 15 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Magda's Moment at Mardigrasland". Retrieved 12 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Australian Film Institute, Past Winners, Television 1986–2006

Further reading

External links