In the modeling world, age can be an even bigger deal than in the film industry, which is why Shayk feels grateful to still be employed at … 34.
“I’m so lucky to be working,” she told PEOPLE.
“I think women are like a good wine: better with age, wiser and [make] better decisions in life. I think a woman just has to feel she never ages inside. It’s all about personality. It’s all about how you take life in and send the energy out there.”
“I mean, let’s not talk about this idea of, ‘Oh no! I’m going to be 40!’ You could be dead. So enjoy it. It’s a privilege to age,” the actress told InStyle. “Even in scripts, they’ll refer to a character as ‘aging.’ Well… everyone is aging. In literature and in movies, when people try to stop the process, it always ends in disaster. I think it’s really important to be where you are.”
At 70 years old, Lange is hitting a high point in her career. Lange has been awarded three Emmys since 2010, and has snagged roles in critically acclaimed shows like American Horror Story and Feud: Bette and Joan. But even someone like Lange, who is having so much success, admits that it’s tough to do well as an actress as one gets older. “Ageism is pervasive in this industry,” she told AARP The Magazine. “It’s not a level playing field. You don’t often see women in their 60s playing romantic leads, yet you will see men in their 60s playing romantic leads with costars who are decades younger.” Her solution? Find the arenas that work for you. “I think about how few wonderful actresses of my generation are still doing viable, important film work,” she says. “You go to television. You go to the stage. You do whatever you can because you want to keep working.”
No one could accuse Arquette of being soft-spoken: She spoke out in favor of equal pay for women during her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech. But one issue she wishes we could all stop talking about? Ageism. “Yes, the next step would be to not have to talk about it,” she told Elle. “I’d love to not have to talk about it anymore. I don’t think men are talking about it at all. Aging is just normal! That is all there is to it … It’s pathetic, and it looks pathetic, when I hear some 55-year-old actor won’t play opposite a 42-year-old woman because she is too old for him.” And she thinks eventually, we’ll have to: “People aren’t buying this anymore.”
The Grace & Frankie star thinks things are getting better for older actors. “There’s a lot more attention being paid to deeper, more serious subjects with older protagonists,” Tomlin told Elle. But she never thought that she’d see herself starring in a hit Netflix comedy — in particular, one that tackled the idea of aging and reinventing oneself. “I thought I might get another series, but I didn’t know what it would be and if it would be meaningful,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to be without employment. But I didn’t think I’d have a series and certainly not one on Netflix.”
“Ageism is alive and well,” said Fonda, who stars opposite Tomlin in Grace & Frankie. The Oscar winner also shared that it’s an issue that impacts mainly women. “It is okay for men to get older, because men become more desirable by being powerful,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “With women, it’s all about how we look. Men are very visual, they want young women. So, for us, it’s all about trying to stay young.”
Sarandon says that not relying on looks in one’s younger years can help with aging in Hollywood. Playing Bette Davis in Feud: Bette and Joan, the actress revealed that she gained a deeper understanding of the struggle women went through as they got older in Hollywood decades prior. But Davis, she said, was never called a “beauty,” and had to stand on her talent alone. “Bette was never considered beautiful,” she told PEOPLE. “From the very first moment she went to Hollywood, she overheard someone say, ‘Who would want to have her in the picture?’ They tried to bleach her hair and do things to her, but she was just the odd woman out. But that meant she had an advantage because she uglified herself even when she was younger. It’s easier to be a character actor and age and continue to work. I think I’ve benefited from being a character actor in the same way.”
“There is this pressure in Hollywood to be ageless,” she told Yahoo Beauty. “I think what I have been witness to is seeing women trying to stay ageless with what they are doing to themselves. I am grateful to learn from their mistakes, because I am not injecting s— into my face. I see them and my heart breaks. I think, Oh God, if you only know how much older you look.” She added: “They are trying to stop the clock, and all you can see is an insecure person who won’t let themselves just age.”
Mirren doesn’t mince words when it comes to her feelings about ageism in Hollywood. “Honestly, it’s so annoying,” she said at The Wrap’s Power Women Breakfast in June 2015. “And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying,” Preach, Queen.
Johnson is only 30 years old — still young by Hollywood standards — but even she is fed up with ageism in Hollywood. Why? Because she’s seen the impact it’s had on her mother, Melanie Griffith, and grandmother Tippi Hedren. “This industry is f—ing brutal,” Johnson told British Vogue. “Why isn’t my mother in movies? She’s an extraordinary actress! Why isn’t my grandmother in movies?”
Jamie Lee Curtis
The societal reaction to aging stars is “humiliating,” according to Curtis, who thinks that treating growing older as an unusual or negative experience is harmful. “I think it’s humiliating to see the media frenzy when somebody gets older and they don’t look the way they used to look,” she told PEOPLE. “It’s like dancing with the devil. I’ve danced with it for a long time, and it’s been okay. But I don’t want to be punished for the natural evolution of being human, and I will be if I stay in it too long.”
At just 36 years old, Hathaway said she’s already losing out on parts to actresses who are younger than she is — but she’s not complaining. “I can’t complain about it because I benefited from it,” she told Glamour UK. “When I was in my early twenties, parts would be written for women in their fifties and I would get them. And now I’m in my early thirties and I’m like, ‘Why did that 24-year-old get that part?’ ” Hathaway said she can’t be upset, but she does admit that getting older leads to having a name that carries weight, which can be worth as much as youth in the industry. “All I can do right now is think that thankfully you have built up perhaps a little bit of cachet and can tell stories that interest you and if people go to see them you’ll be allowed to make more.”
Griffin says the two biggest obstacles she faces career-wise are sexism and ageism, having told PEOPLE that the latter is a “daily battle.” She and the late Joan Rivers would discuss the difficulties they faced, and that the subtle discrimination is constant. “I’ve had network executives tell me ‘We’re just not considering females at this time,’” she said. “I would be hearing, ‘They like you, they’ve just decided to go younger.’”
The late Roberts was so passionate about ageism that she went to Washington to do something about it. In 2002, Roberts spoke at a Senate hearing on ageism in the media, where she gave a scathing summary of the cruelty women of a certain age can face later on in their careers. “This is why some of my spectacularly talented actress friends in their 40s and 50s have been forced into the humiliating position of borrowing money from me, or begging me to see if there is even a tiny part for them on Everybody Loves Raymond,” Roberts said on the Senate floor. Later on, she told PEOPLE: “There is no photograph in any magazine that I can think of, other than [AARP The Magazine], that shows a woman over the age of 45, unless she’s suffering from cancer or (selling) Viagra. They like to airbrush us out of existence. I hold Madison Avenue at fault for dismissing us.”
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