Ageism and Heterosexism in Hollywood

I am effin' pissed! OK, so this probably isn't a great emotion to be carrying around as a life coach, but as an actress I'm pissed! Why, you ask? Well, a month ago, my talent manager called to tell me that they'd found the "perfect" role for me in a new TV pilot, listed in the breakdowns. The character was a comedic, 30-something, petite, big-haired Jersey girl with a sassy, snarky attitude and an East Coast accent... um, duh! I was so excited, because the roles that scream my name are few and far between. My manager told me that the entire office was pitching me to the casting director to get me an audition. The following day, my manager called me again (she was about as pissed as I am now!) to tell me that they had worked all day and tried everything they could, but the casting director and producers thought I looked too young and would not see me for the pilot! Now, if I'm going to get rejected from an acting job, I definitely prefer to hear that it's because I look "too young" or "too pretty," but the rejection was frustrating just the same! I mean, how could I look too young to be a 30-something Jersey girl? Go on, you are free to laugh! The explanation seemed ridiculous and tough to comprehend. Then, a few days ago, my manager pitched me to a film casting director for the role of a 25- to 30-year-old prostitute with long, dark hair, and the casting director told her I looked a bit too "old" and mature for the role. What?! Would someone in Hollywood please come up with better excuses? At that point I was so annoyed and frustrated that I went to grab lunch at The Abbey with my friend Steven, who happens to be gay. Thankfully, Steven is an actor, so when I'm with him I can vent and complain about the industry. I shared my story and my "pissedness" about the ageism that takes place in the entertainment industry, and he shared that the producers of a TV pilot recently passed on him because they thought he read "a little too gay" for the part! This, of course, led us into a whole powwow session about ageism and heterosexism in Hollywood.

Now, I might be a bit biased, because Steven is my friend, but as a producer myself, I would surely cast Steven in any role he was right for, whether the character was gay or straight, because I think he is a very talented and diverse actor! I am still not sure what the producers meant by saying he read "a little too gay" for the part. Does that mean he was a bit too soft-spoken with his read, or too feminine, or not macho enough in his delivery? I'm sorry, isn't it the director's job to give the actor adjustments or help him tap into the different sides of the character? Or does it really mean that because Steven is "out" as a gay actor (and he is not a big name), the producers were not going to seriously consider him for a straight character? Steven shared a few stories with me, and I was surprised by how often he actually deals with heterosexism in the entertainment industry. It seems as though he deals with it almost as much as I and my actress friends deal with ageism and sexism on the casting couch! Needless to say, after dissecting this "entertainment discrimination" over lunch, I left feeling bummed and frustrated.

Fortunately, I had a Theta Healing session with my amazing Theta Healer, Karen, late that afternoon. (Oh, you thought life coaches don't need their own coaches, healers, therapists, and support systems? Are you kidding? We need them more than anyone!) I love my sessions with Karen, because she really releases what is underneath my negative thoughts and feelings, and she happens to be a lesbian, so I knew she would understand the heterosexism thing that was bugging me. I had gone into the session feeling like a victim but left with some powerful discoveries. Both Steven and I were allowing ourselves to be victims of the entertainment business. We were making the casting rejections mean that there was something "wrong" with us. I finally got back into my power and realized that I am who I am! I am 30-something, and I cannot change that. Steven is gay, and he cannot change that. And why would we want to? There is only one of me, and there is only one of him, and there is only one of you! Moreover, the same "reasons," "excuses," "explanations," etc. we were given for why we weren't "right" for those roles will be the same "reasons" we will be perfect for different roles in the future! I got back into the space of focusing on gratitude and being grateful for even having a manager who pitches me. Oh, and did I mention that some producers passed on me for a role because they thought I looked too young? Now, my fabulous readers, that is something to be grateful for!

Be you and be fearless,