Monday, July 22, 2013

On Age and Acting Part I

I was watching R&B Divas Los Angeles the other night (yes, a reality tv guilty pleasure) and Chante Moore said she had just turned 30.  Now, considering she was a grown, successful woman when I was a teenager, I knew good and well she was fudging that number – by a lot, like a LOT lot.  But that reminded me of how stupid this whole age thing is for women in “show biz” and that, in fact, just the day before, at an audition, I had done the same damn thing…  I was at a go-see and I could tell that the casting agency was weeding people out based on age.  I’m one of those weird hybrids in that I look younger than my age, so I could believable portray the role they were casting for, but had they looked only at my age on paper, they wouldn’t have even considered me.  So when I signed in (name, age, address…), I fudged.  Just like Chante Moore did.  Just like countless other actresses have to do.  I hate that it’s necessary.  I hate that a youthful look is only associated with the ages under 30. 
I wonder to what extent this is or is not true for male actors... Do men lie about their age to get work?  I watched a new scripted show called The Hustle this weekend and there was a short scene in which an older legendary dj/producer tells a young rap group that he has trouble selling beats to new artists because, solely based on his age, they consider him "not hot".
I imagine, singers have it much tougher than actors, though.  How often do you see a woman "breaking into" the music industry in her 40s or 50s?  How many women at the top of the rock/country/r&B/hip hop/pop charts are over 30?  The music industry seems even more brutal with its ageism than the film industry.  How many GREAT performers are we missing out on because someone in charge thought they didn't look young enough, no matter how talented they were?
The idea that youth = relevance is bull.  And it’s sad that we have to conform to it to get ahead.  Chante Moore, as stunning and talented as she is, has earned the right to be accepted, hell, REVERED irrespective of her age.  And so have I.  And so have you.  And so have all of us who bust our tails at our work.  It’s sad that we have to pretend for the narrowminded who think anything too far over 20something is useless.

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