What Celebrities Say About Ageism in Hollywood

Our favorite quotes from actors and agents who are speaking out about age bias

By Heidi Raschke

August 10, 2016

Credit: Nathan Noyes

Despite a recent article in Vulture hailing actresses over 60 as Hollywood's new box office powerhouses, the truth is that ageism has long been a problem in the entertainment industry. So what to do about it? 

A recent panel discussion produced by screenwriter/producer David Christopher Barry and Robyn Rosenfeld in association with Women in Film took on that question. They invited others familiar with what it's like to be over 50 in a youth-obsessed culture to talk about their experiences, as well as their hopes. 

What follows are our favorite quotes from the discussion.

Kathy Griffin, comedian, 55

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"I’m actually surprised I’m experiencing so much ageism because I particularly went into this field thinking it doesn’t really matter what I look like as long as I’m making people laugh. But it does."

Sharon Lawrence, actor, 55

"I’m sure many of you saw the Vulture article about how women in their 60s — I don’t want to say they’re dominating the screen, they’re not — but there are great success stories. And it is the people you’d recognize: It’s Meryl Streep, it’s Lily Tomlin, Diane Keaton and Sally Field and Judy Dench ..."

JoBeth Williams, actor, 67

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"I do think that the baby boomer generation ... We’re the people who go to the movies, for God’s sake ... We want to see people our age. We want to see stories about people our age. I think we need to make noise about it."

Harlan Boll, management and public relations

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"My happiest clients are the ones that embrace their age."

Lynn Whitfield, actress/producer, 63

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"Do you think it’s also great to work with young filmmakers? To make ourselves available to work with young filmmakers? To understand that perhaps the money may be less than you’re accustomed to?"

Lesley Ann Warren, actor/singer, 67

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"I want to see roles for women like in European films where women are whole, intelligent, sensual — and older —and funny and sad and whatever they are. Where they’re actually a developed being. I don’t want to just be an alcoholic or a sex addict or a cougar."  

Ashton Applewhite, writer/activist, 64

Credit: Nathan Noyes

"It’s embarrassing to be called out as older until we quit being embarrassed about it."   Interested in knowing more? Follow Ageism in Hollywood on Facebook to watch the whole discussion, learn more and find out about upcoming events.
By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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