One of Australia's best known and most loved comedy actress, Magda Szubanski began her career in in the latter half of the 1980s and became known for playing various characters in the Australian TV sketch comedy show ‘The D-Generation’. The series ran for two series in 1986 and 1987 and later gave way to four specials, one of which was ‘The D-Generation Goes Commercial’ (1988-1989) wherein Szubanski once again played various characters. In 1989, she co-wrote and performed various characters in one of Australia's highest-rated and most critically awarded commercial television sketch comedy show of the time ‘Fast Forward’. The show ran for 4 seasons (90 episodes) from 1989 to 1992 and bagged her two ‘Logie Awards’ for Most Popular Female Light Entertainer. The series was followed by another related sketch-comedy series ‘Full Frontal’ in which she made a guest appearance in 1993. During the time she was also seen playing the roles of Betsy Bligh in the Australian sitcom ‘Bligh’ (1992); Mr. Cardigan/Mr. Trouser/Bill Kelty in the television movie ‘A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy’ and Judith Gates/Kim Borrodale in another TV movie ‘The Making of Nothing’ (both 1993).
In 1994, along with Gina Riley and Jane Turner, Magda Szubanski wrote, performed and produced Australia's first ever all-female sketch comedy television show ‘Big Girl's Blouse’. The next year she made her film debut with the comedy drama movie ‘Babe’ wherein she played the role of Esme Hoggett. The film was a critical and commercial success and has a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. She later reprised her role in the 1998 sequel ‘Babe: Pig in the City’. Meanwhile, she also played the role of Doris in the TV series ‘The Genie from Down Under’ (1996), Bella Bouvier in another series ‘Good Guys, Bad Guys’ (1997) and Furlow in the sci-fi series ‘Farscape’ (1999-2001). In 1998, she wrote, produced and starred in the short-lived sketch comedy show ‘Something Stupid’.
Magda Szubanski then created and starred as Margaret O'Halloran in series of three Dogwoman TV movies – ‘Dogwoman: Dead Dog Walking’ (2000), ‘Dogwoman: A Grrrl's Best Friend’ (2000) and ‘Dogwoman: The Legend of Dogwoman’ (2001). The following year, she acted in the adventure comedy film ‘The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course’ and played the main role in ‘Kath & Kim’, a sitcom created by Jane Turner and Gina Riley. In the latter, she was seen as Sharon Strzelecki, a character she earlier created for ‘Big Girl's Blouse’. She played the role for 4 seasons of the series (2002-2007) and won the 2002 ‘AFI Award’ for Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy (For episode 'Wedding'). Additionally, she also won nominations twice each at the ‘Logie Awards’ for Most Popular Actress and ‘AFI Awards’ for Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy. She also received a nomination at the 'Australian Comedy Awards' for Outstanding Comic Performance on Australian TV. The series gave way to a TV movie ‘Da Kath & Kim Code’ (2005) and a feature film ‘Kath & Kimderella’ (2012) in both of which Magda Szubanski played the same role once again. She also wrote for her character in all the three.
In 2006, she lent her voice to the character of Miss Viola in the animated musical adventure comedy film ‘Happy Feet’. Later, she once again did the voiceover for the role in the sequel ‘Happy Feet Two’ (2011). The year 2007 saw her playing the minor role of Mrs. Lonsdale in the fantasy adventure film ‘The Golden Compass’. Her other film credits up till 2010 are ‘Son of the Mask’ (2005; role: Neighbour Betty), ‘Dr Plonk’ (2007; role: Mrs. Plonk), ‘Little Deaths’ (2007; role: Iris), ‘Bran Nue Dae’ (2009; role: Roadhouse Betty) and ‘Santa's Apprentice’ (2010; voice role: Beatrice). On television, she was seen in the sketch comedy and clip show ‘Magda's Funny Bits’ (2006); hosted the pop culture related series ‘The Spearman Experiment’ (2009) and explored her family tree in the genealogy documentary series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ (2010).
Magda Szubanski continued acting in films and television and worked in films like ‘Goddess’ (2013; role: Cassandra Wolfe), ‘Three Summers’ (2017; role: Queenie), ‘The BBQ’ (2018; role: The Butcher) and ‘Ride Like a Girl’ (2019; role: Sister Dominique). The first two films won her nominations for best supporting actress at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards and Australian Film Critics Association Awards respectively. In 2020, she lent her voice in the computer animated adventure fantasy comedy film ‘100% Wolf’ (2020; role: Mrs. Mutton). On television, she was seen in the part of Diane in the miniseries 'Sisters' (2017) and Jemima Davies-Smythe in 11 episodes of the series ‘Neighbours’ (2018). Additionally, she made quick acting appearances in the TV series ‘Rake’, ‘Legit’, ‘It's a Date’ (all 2014) and ‘My Life Is Murder’ (2019). In 2015, she became a cast member of the sketch comedy show ‘Open Slather’ (also wrote two episodes) and played various characters in it. From 2015 to 2017, she also appeared as herself in the TV series documentary ‘Stop Laughing... This Is Serious’ and in 2018 was seen in the TV movie documentary ‘The Steve Irwin Story’.
Her most recent works include a podcast series ‘The Orchard’ in 2021 and TV series ‘God's Favorite Idiot’ (as God) and ‘After the Verdict’ (as Margie), both in 2022. In 2021-2022, Magda Szubanski also hosted the game show ‘Weakest Link (Australia)’.