Embrace Your Age!
Why You Shouldn’t Try to Be Young Forever
(by Tonya Tannenbaum)
Alright, you perpetual 25-year-olds! You can’t be young forever!
Yes, showbusiness has a long history of actors lying about their age. And why not? Hollywood is a town that was largely built on youth, beauty and glamour.
Aging, for many actors, often means less power, limited opportunities and fewer jobs. So, if you can’t beat Father Time, some figure, why not simply deny its existence? One little white lie and…presto! The clock is turned back.
This is especially true for women. Hollywood can be absolutely brutal to the aging actress. Even today, ageism is still rampant. Consider this gaudy statistic from Womenandhollywood.com:
Of the top 100 highest grossing films between 2017-2018, women received only about 33% of all speaking roles and named characters. Of those, only about 25% went to women over 40.
But this still represents a significant improvement when compared to previous years. The trend lines are increasingly pointing up. (Also, don’t forget that the three highest-grossing films of 2017 – Star Wars, Beauty & the Beast and Wonder Woman – all featured a female lead. Girl power is increasingly bankable.)
So, while it may be tempting to pretend to stay young forever, it is often better to simply embrace your age.
Younger actors certainly have more available roles. But they are also faced with stiffer competition. It’s hard to find work when there are thousands of other actors who look like you, all competing for the same roles.
But a funny thing happens as time goes on. Many of those thousands of actors give up and move on with their lives. The actors who stick with it are met with fewer opportunities, but also, fewer people to compete with for those remaining roles.
Play to your “Type”
If you’re a woman who looks 35, but you insist on playing 25-year-olds, you are not playing to your type. Why would a casting director choose someone who only looks 25 when they squint really hard, when they can easily find an actual 25-year-old, or at least, someone who genuinely looks that age?
And, while it may make you feel good to be considered for 25-year-old roles, you’d probably have more success going after roles that are closer to your own age.
All Types Are Needed
Have you watched any commercials lately? Count how many older, or even elderly, roles you see. The inevitable conclusion you will come to is: showbusiness needs all types. There truly is work for everyone.
You might feel insecure about your age, as an actor. You may feel that there are no roles for someone in your age category. But, if you don’t play the role of the “chief of police” or the “loving grandmother” or the “cranky old judge” or the “sexy cougar” or the “caring father”, who will?
Lastly, consider this quote from Academy Award Nominee, Leslie Ann Warren:
“This industry eats women up in their 20’s and spits them out in their 30’s…I haven’t really experienced that ‘shelf life’ issue because of my willingness to embrace my age and continue to allow myself to grow.”
(Leslie Ann Warren)
It’s a fact of the entertainment business that there is usually less work for the less-than-youthful. But that doesn’t mean you should try to be young forever. If you embrace your age, you can actually make it work for you.
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