How many times have you gone to see a romantic comedy, and the male lead is in his 50s, acting against a female in her mid-late 30s at best?
We’re betting the answer is a lot – and it drives us mad. Vast numbers of actresses from Maggie Gyllenhaal to Kate Winslet have spoken out about how unrealistic it is and now a new campaign ‘Acting Your Age’ has launched which aims to stop the blatant ageism shown on screen.
Spearheaded by 51-year-old performer and campaigner Nicola Clarke, the campaign focuses on ending the ageism perpetuated by both the TV and Film industries, here and abroad.
Writing on her website Nicola says:
“I always wanted a superpower but strength, speed, the capacity to fly and x-ray vision is nothing when compared to the middle-aged woman’s ability to be invisible”.
She rightly points out that this invisibility, also being talked about across the media right now, doesn’t seem to impact women in their 60s and 70s as much, although in our experience we’re still treated as somewhat doddery nanna’s, but specifically affects the hidden middle; women in their 40s and 50s who aren’t quite one thing or another – and as such are treated as nothing by a film industry convinced that no one wants to see them.
There are of course other campaigns promoting similar agendas. As Nicola points out, women like Frances Dormand are fighting to change the narrative from inside the industry, encouraging influential actors to insert an ‘inclusivity rider’ into their contracts.
That means along with only having orange smarties and a trailer bedecked in white muslin, stars can demand that the projects they work on must meet certain inclusivity quotas. It’s not the ideal solution – that would be directors and money men realising that we actually don’t just WANT to see pretty young white women with no personalities on screen, but it’s certainly a start.
Michael Sheen has lent his support to the campaign, along with novelist Jane Fallon but for the campaign to work, we all need to speak out. Hit your social media to highlight ridiculous stereotypes on screen (55-year-old Tom Cruise and EVERY leading lady he works with anyone?).
It’s only when we boycott with our feet and wallets, and speak out whenever we can that the outdated and outmoded notion of 40 and 50-year-old women not being necessary on the screen will be put to bed once and for all – and that’s a campaign we’re definitely keen to get behind!
Learn more about the Acting Your Age campaign here!