I'm coming out of the closet -- the age closet. As a performer, apparently my prospects go down at 40 -- there's actually 93 per cent less job opportunities for actresses when they hit my new age. Since I write, and sing, and do comedy, I'm not terribly worried about a few wrinkles ending my career. But I do still avoid mentioning my age at industry events (the same way that I omit stories about my RV when I'm chatting with rich folk, knowing they won't appreciate the ol' shitbox the same way I do).
So five minutes after turning 39 I asked myself: "How will I make turning 40 into an asset?" I thought for a while that I could just make 39 last a decade, like the Demis and Courtneys of the world. I researched veneers, laser skin tightening, breast lifting, and creams made of placentas or something worse. Then I realized that'll only plug the dam for 10 years. What happens at 50? Do I then have to commit to the Joan Rivers plan of endless facelifts till my skin is so lifted my belly button will become a third nostril and my kids will be wondering why their mom looks like a paper mache version of herself? No thanks. All the best to Hollywood, but that's not for me.
I decided to handle this aging crisis now, for good. Figure out a way to embrace 40, NOT run from it. What's great about 40? 40 years worth of friends, 40 years worth of life lessons, 40 years of honing skills! I decided to produce a small fundraiser to celebrate my lil' milestone, forcing me to announce my 40th birthday to the Canadian Entertainment Industry at large. I even hired a publicist and asked her to send out a press release basically stating "I'm 40 and I know it!"
Will there be consequences to announcing I'm at a standoff with a 93 per cent layoff? Maybe. But deep down I've always known that being a risk taker is where all the glory is. It's a quiet, personal, private glory of knowing you've faced your fears; whether your opponent is a pro-wrestler, the bathroom scale, or a bitter audience, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Someone once told me "run toward the monster: it gets smaller the closer you get." So when I feel like putting something difficult off (hello income tax, exercise and confrontation!) I challenge myself to get it done first, and feel the relief flooding in when I complete the task and GASP survive!
In fact, any major obstacles I've faced in life have given me strength or insight I wouldn't have had otherwise. Being a miserable, sunburnt mormon missionary in Venezuela for 18 months (you'll have to buy my book for the full story!) gave me the confidence to try anything. Losing my paternal grandmother made me want to approach life with the same happiness she did. Postpartum depression made me deepen my resolve to share my story with other women, which has brought me great satisfaction. Leaving my sweet TV gig after six seasons made me look in the mirror and ask "what do I REALLY want?" And I'm still reaping the rewards and meaning in my new work as a mom, author, comedian, motivational speaker, and grateful vacationer.
So hello 40. I'm staring you straight in the face. Bring it on. What have you got for me? Less work? I'll make my own opportunities! They might be different than my original plans, but I know how to get creative. Laugh lines? Fine -- those are my favourite thing about my mom, and I'm glad to have them to show off to my own kids. Less energy? Hello, that's why they made HBO and reclining sofas! Menopause? Just more to bond with my BFF about. So August 25, at Hugh's Room, I'm gonna sing and dance and laugh my heart out with my talented friend Melanie Doane, and beg the audience to donate to Yellow Brick House; a shelter for abused women and children. And it will bring meaning and celebration to what might normally feel like a prize for coming in 40th. Hope you can join me in person or in spirit. Happy birthday, myself!
Visit Jessicaholmes.com for tickets or information