• Chris Banks

Updated: 5 days ago

On this Thanksgiving, a most unique and yes strange Thanksgiving-it is a time to be thankful. Especially thankful, remember that all who we are, all of what we are thankful for can easily disappear. People who you rely on, people who you love, businesses you’ve known your entire life, traditions your used to, the very home you call home-in a moments notice, with one act of carelessness, selfishness can all be gone.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for our country, my life, for my family, my friends and for the incredible things that I get to do for work. On this Thanksgiving I’m reminded of the very first Thanksgiving. Much like today, then we weren’t a nation more than a collection of individuals. Opinions. We worked together. We found common ground, a common purpose. A north star. People of diverse backgrounds came together to be thankful to be sitting at one table, together, in peace.

I love this period of time in American history, not for the atrocities but for the connectedness, the tender togetherness, people who look nothing alike buying into these ideals that are only American, ideals given to us by the French, now shared by most of the world.

On this Thanksgiving I’m reminded of the last film I saw in New York City before the pandemic; First Cow.

It was March 9th, it was rainy. On the cold side. I had the day off, something I’m not used to. It was in the height of, ‘what the fuck is going on with this virus’ time. No one quite knew, but everyone had a feeling. I did. It felt like a storm coming. Like a rain cloud encroaching. What would the rain feel like? Would it be ok?

I took the train as I always did, up this time, usually I see films either 34th St or midtown. Today I wanted to go up to Lincoln center. I wanted to see First Cow. I was very excited to see this film. Tomorrow I had a rehearsal for a play I was to begin and the day after I had my first table read for another new project I was heading into. But on that day, it was all about the rain and the film from my favorite people at A24. So I took my train, I got my coffee and I headed in, to go on a ride.

The film looks at the gentle friendships brutal terrain and harsh realities of the time of the California gold rush. People from all over the world came here, traveled west and searched to make his fortune. What’s striking immediately about the film is how diverse the population already is, with people from Russia Asia France and Britain all there mining for gold. Sound familiar?

There are natives among the mix as well, wearing their incredible native wardrobe and traditional pieces. This America, the adolescent America - still very much a diverse, competitive land. It always was, and always has been-from the first settlers. The natives had their own ways, traditions and practices. They had their history. This was their land after all. They didn’t look down or up at the British or organized forces. They were ‘friends’- they were partners. There was a mutual give and take that I think we today don’t appreciate as much as we should. Because surely the natives did not enjoy what they were being put through, in spite of it chiefs recognized the opportunity to better their peoples lives, something that I am still disappointed in my own government for not living up to for these last 244 years.

But putting grievances aside, what stays with you when you watch the film is the gentle interconnectedness of the time. Everything is in a gentle balance still. This still exists today, but this balance inherent in Native culture and of this land has just been raped and exploited for quite literally all she has to offer. Now is the time to find a better way. While we are all collectively down in the dumps we should use a film like First Cow to show us the detail of what we may take for granted today or aren’t sensitive enough to. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be of native heritage on this continent. Surely a mix and so much conflict within. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for an African American to watch yet another story of yet another person of their own heritage being depicted in a stereotypical way. I can’t imagine how tried you are and sick to death of it. The act of slavery was the most inhumane destructive thing we have ever done in our name, as a country. And we’ve done a lot of inhumane and destructive things. History can be a great burden or a great hand if you allow it to teach you and lift you up from the mistakes of yesterday. We should collectively decide to move on, to higher ground-so that we can find common ground.

First Cow is just so beautifully done. They purposefully include long boring shots because they want you to get a sense of time in the world in which we are, with the film. There was no pulling phones out to waste a moment of anxiety, no early exits because of text messages-back in those days you endured. Because you had to. You had to just be. Be a full human. You couldn’t run into your rabbit hole to feel better about yourself. You endured whatever you set your mind to. Whatever the world hurled upon you. If a long ship was passing by there wasn’t GPS to tell you how to get around it, you sat, and you waited for it to pass-and in so doing you saw it’s size, it’s color maybe heard it’s sound. You appreciated its beauty. Today, in our rabbit holes We lose a lot of beauty in our rush to do everything fast instead of well. To judge.

All of us have just had to endure the most trying 4 years of almost any American generation since WW2. Today, if not everyday, I hope that we can force ourselves to be more present, breach the walls of our rabbit holes and connect with people. Share. Talk. Remember. First Cow teaches all of us that all of us can work together. Today, Thanksgiving, reminds us what kind of country we can be if we choose to work together and not against one another.

From June 2020

Each day this week I have awoken with eyes full of tears. I’m struggling to address the unfolding events around our nation. Indeed we are all overcome with a sense of emotion in, what seems like one of our nations darkest hours. I’m struggling to address, adequately or with any kind of meaning, how much the murder of Mr. Floyd has affected me. I witnessed a modern day lynching. I’ve struggled for days with just how to use my voice in the best way. When I saw it I screamed. This is ain’t an after thought fabrication. I’ve never seen this kind of brutality or disregard for human life. At the hands of ‘law enforcement’ no less.

I am a white man. I am the the grandson of an immigrant from Ireland. The one place on earth where white people understand all too well what being treated inhumanely in your own homeland feels like. Maybe that’s a part, maybe my upbringing is a part, maybe my friends are a part, maybe my loves are a part, maybe my appreciation for history is a part, or maybe it’s my duty to my father to my country-but I identify with this struggle. I cannot understand the struggle of African Americans, but I can empathize with it. I identify with it. And I can help fight it alongside you. My friends must no longer be afraid blinking may be their last act on earth, or an interaction with the police. We need protests. Because we need change. For many black Americans this is their daily reality, being conscious of the cops, being mistreated by not just the cops but by everyday encounters with everyday people that everyday white people entirely take for granted. Or when black Americans try to use our right of protest, even in a silent way-this cry for help is still unheard and often willingly refused to be accepted by my white brothers and sisters. It’s in this perception, this willing refusal to acknowledge or accept this as true that needs to change just as much as the laws do. It isn’t acceptable, in 2020, nor was it ever acceptable.

George Washington freed all of his slaves toward the end of his life, because he knew better. He knew he was wrong, he knew he made a mistake-it was always wrong. After slavery was abolished, African Americans fleeing to new land, rightfully, expected a formal national apology. It never came. Instead of apologizing, or doing absolutely anything to rectify the owning of human beings as private property to an entire population directly affected-America forced the people who built her to endure a two century struggle for an affirmed identity in her name. Enduring so much pain in order just to be treated with respect. Think about this.

We are all hurting right now, my black brothers and sisters especially. Our purpose as Americans is to turn this pain into a just anger, and a purpose. My purpose will be to remain engaged and grounded in my communities. Emphasize a sustained boycott of any businesses not sympathetic to our cause. I urge all Americans to stop spending money at places which contribute to this mans re-election. Living African Americans may not agree with me but I have always advocated for a constitutional amendment recognizing African Americans as the hands that built America. Any educational expense, from any level in any private or public schooling, should be on the United States Government. It may not be what people see as reparations, it’s just my contribution, an idea, my compromise. We live in a democracy. We all can contribute, we all have ideas. It’s a step.

All of us need to take small steps forward.

As a nation the time to stand up and acknowledge this as a wrong and denounce it once and for all has long passed. It is time for action now. It is time for protest.

For many black Americans this is their Boston tea party. It’s personal for me. I’m ashamed for and of my country. I feel an immense responsibility to help. I’m disappointed in our behavior in our conduct, and in our ways of thinking about our fellow neighbor.

We are all black Americans. We are all brown Americans. We are all Americans.

Say it again.

We are all black Americans. We are all brown Americans. We are all Americans.

While I am not personally, I fight for my black and brown brothers, sisters, and loves. I fight for my father;a man who proudly served his country-not his ego. I fight for all my fellow patriots rightfully protesting equal treatment. Speaking of patriots, Colin Kaepernick is a patriot. He always was and he deserves to be treated as such. Another missed another opportunity to learn from.

And here are, in another learning moment. What will we do? Never have another one. We better learn now, and take steps forward.

People are confused to their core-because The President has uprooted our very democracy. That’s what you voted for him to do. This administration has turned brothers against brothers and sisters against sisters. It’s made the utility of our rights a question of where you stand on a political spectrum or what color your skin is. I never thought I would write these words in my lifetime, having been born after 1990.

That’s how naive I am.

What I am no longer naive to is how we are remaking America.

All of us. Together. We are, and we will.

We are remaking America in just the way the man who wrote our constitution thought we would. Because we would have to. We are remaking America, now, in her best imagine. So, as we are in the midst of this darkness the sadness the anger the just rage, think of the light-it is a beautiful thing to be alive to be a part of. One day, and not too far in the distance, she will live up to her promise. To everyone.

  • Chris Banks

If anything else this year has taught me that anything can happen, at any time, with any and all consequence. I was just living what seems now to be a dream. An actor finding his way in America’s biggest city. But the trauma of having to uproot it this year made me change the way I was thinking. I moved to New York City without any acting experience, now I have a life of purpose and a heart full of love. Love for the craft, for the people I work with, for the material I get to get my hands on, and for the opportunity to be in front of a camera, acting. I love every single element about this job. There is not one single thing that I do not like. How lucky am I? How many people are working in careers that they have such a full heart and are filled with such purpose to do the job that is theirs to do? I have no idea. I met a fantastic mail person who works for us in the city way back when i lived in sunset park in Brooklyn, she loved her job as much as I do in film. And people loved her. How amazing is this? When you meet people who are passionate about what they do, it leaves a mark on you. It drives you, to be better. To ask. You’ll have a hard time getting through life without the ability to ask. Ask questions, ask for help. I was taught this lesson in my 20s. Better late than never. But as a kid, I always asked questions. When you don’t come from any money the ability to ask for help usually came from an insecure place. It was hard asking for help, because I always needed it. Instead of the miraculous help i always needed, the universe interrupted my plans to serve me a tiny miracle. I listened. You know who else I listened to? Good friends do wonders for your insecurities or your struggles or your short comings. They fill you up. They fill in your pot holes. They teach you things. Be very careful with who you call a friend in this life. This year has taught me those who you hold so close can let you down while those who you just met can be there in a blink of an eye. It’s all about consistency, intent, purpose. We only have a short time on this earth. Life flys by. Literally. While the days may feel long, one day you will sit back and it will feel like an actual blink of an eye. Take it from someone who just learned this lesson. This year taught me a lot, and I miss a lot. I miss the old New York. The way my life used to be, the madness, the people, the auditions, the hustle, the movies the shows the fun nights. I miss all of it. But what I do not miss is a fleeting feeling that I am not good enough. It’s almost the vibration of the city. The demands expectations people hurl upon you. That insecurity I was talking about. I don’t miss that at all. Because I don’t have it anymore. Sure I didn’t book the big jobs I’ve gone in for so far but just wait until the next one i go in for. Insecurity is real and everyone deals with it. I had it heavy when I was in my early 20s, moving to NYC and getting to do all that I did helped solve all of that. It’s the people. The feedback. What I get to see that I just did with my eyes. The teachers. The instructors. The casting directors. I wasn’t as present as I needed to be before this time in my home. And so it turns out in a year filled with so much despair, needless suffering and division-this year was the ol shake of the salt shaker I needed. I was a mess in NYC at times, like every other actor who is struggling to feed himself. Life is expensive. Life in the city is even more expensive. I was simply auditioning for these big roles being overwhelmed with the workload i needed to maintain to live there and no people around me to help with it all. I don’t beat myself up for this. It’s a lesson for my life. I will be better. I will book the roles. But I needed a break. And I got it. Now I’m beaming with energy filled with purpose and ready to dive into anything and everything. I am very thankful to say that. I’m very thankful for the decisions I’ve made in my life, usually facing harsh tailwinds. This year has been hard on all of us, harder for some than others. I feel it, I recognize this, I know. On my name Tag at the old hotel i used to work for in Copley Square in Boston, my passion was helping people. I tried to do as much as I could for people during this time inside. But I always can do more. Connected some with resources, helped others, helped a veteran get his first house (my dad), phone banked for Joe. I do anything I can, but I want to do so much more. Hopefully soon I’ll deserve to..



©2019 by Chris Banks. Proudly created with