Please Don't Define Me By My Age

Recently I was asked how I felt about aging. I responded I don't believe in the concept of age; it doesn't exist except to present false boundaries. Please don't define me by my age.

While age is a marker of time, how can we mark cumulative experience, behavior, intelligence, wisdom or inner and outer beauty? Conventional beliefs about age most often limit, restrict and pigeonhole people. For instance, my daughter is in her late 20s and has been dating a man 22 years older for five years. When asked how I feel about it -- and I often am -- I usually say, it's none of my business. But truthfully, I believe there are no rules in love. I'm sure most of society would have a different opinion, but me? I just say...really?

I am an actress, and I am proudly in my 50s. I feel I have the energy, the spunk, the curiosity, and the vitality of a woman many years younger especially compared to the stereotypical perspective of women post-50. I hike or do yoga almost daily; I drive my Vespa in and out of LA traffic; I sculpt in marble with masks and grinders; and I am passionately committed to my creative expression as an actress.

That is the personal story, and yet I constantly grapple with the professional jungle. Quite frankly, "that age thing" has been very limiting to me as an actress. I am in a business where women in their 50s are viewed "over the hill" and "less than" and the roles tend to be supplementary and less vibrant. It doesn't matter that I might look younger and behave with a youthful vibrancy. As an actress, I am compartmentalized by a chronicle age, a marker of time, and consequently I am rarely seen for the right roles because my looks and my zest for life hasn't quite caught up to those Earth years. I have been in this business and played widely diverse roles, but my age lumps me into a category and places barriers to more expansive parts. In a business about imagination, I still question how it is that the casting remains so predictable and on the nose. What is most interesting is that my age is no longer a factor for me personally; I feel the best and most secure about "me" as a woman at this age than ever before and I am fortunate to have my good health. I take more risks, because I am more embodied. I feel I am choosing my life instead of life choosing me, and I am no longer a constant victim of my emotions and reactive mind. Instead I choose to funnel all that drama into my acting roles.

It is because of my age and experience that I have the wisdom in how to direct and contain my energy more productively. It's a shame that the film industry and most industries see women in their 50s as too old when really it is our best decade, the decade when we find our voice and are willing to claim it.

I am now portraying Jocasta in the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Machina in Los Angeles at The Odyssey Theater. I have been so inspired by her. For me, Jocasta is the Renaissance woman, the embodiment of every woman. For most of the play, I am a woman and a queen who is ageless, embracing the role of both mother and wife without fully being aware of it. It never occurred to me that I was too old to play Oedipus' wife/lover or too young to play his mother. It gets back to my theory on age and how one lives and what one radiates as a friend, lover, parent, sister, partner... It is a decision and it comes from within -- that's how our age should be cast. I am not an internet database (IMDB) entry from which my fate should be decided. I, like Jocasta feel I am constantly combating the forces of preconceived notions. As Jocasta, I am up against the fates and destiny and as Dey, I just want to be seen for all I am and not for what others think I am because of my age. I love Jocasta's line, "All we can trust is the present moment, the pulse that counts the seconds out..." Ah yes, to be present and alive within ourselves.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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