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- In recent years, celebrities have been vocal about a lack of diversity in race, gender, and age in Hollywood.
- Stars like Helen Mirren, Jennifer Aniston, and Heidi Klum have spoken out against ageism in the entertainment industry.
- Grammy-nominated artist Bebe Rexha shared a tweet clapping back at a music executive who told her that at almost 30 years old, she was “too old to be sexy.”
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Whether in the form of a social media selfie caption or a powerful awards ceremony acceptance speech, many celebrities have used their platforms to speak out against age discrimination in the entertainment industry.
“Big Little Lies” star Nicole Kidman called for entertainment executives to tell the stories of women of all ages during an acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Helen Mirren pointed out the double standard of men getting older compared with women aging.
Jennifer Aniston, who recently turned 50, told InStyle that she feels “physically incredible” but said the dialogue around complimenting someone looking good for their age is outdated.
Here are 12 celebrities who have opened up about discrimination they’ve faced while aging in the spotlight.
Jennifer Aniston said she thinks people should establish etiquette around complimenting someone looking good for their age.
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In a recent cover story for InStyle, actress Jennifer Aniston talked about her role for the new Apple original TV series “The Morning Show,” in which she plays Alex Levy, a news anchor who navigates her career while facing issues like sexism and age discrimination.
Aniston, who turned 50 in February, also opened up about her personal experiences with aging.
“Fifty was the first time I thought, ‘Well, that number.’ I don’t know what it is because I don’t feel any different. Things aren’t shutting down in any way,” Aniston told InStyle. “I feel physically incredible. So it’s weird that it’s all of a sudden getting telegraphed in a way that’s like, ‘You look amazing for your age.’ I think we need to establish some etiquette around that dialogue and verbiage.”
Bebe Rexha shared a powerful tweet clapping back at a music executive who said she was “too old to be sexy.”
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Grammy-nominated artist Bebe Rexha recently took to Twitter in response to a music executive who she tweeted said the star was “too old to be sexy.“
In her tweet, the singer wrote: “I recently had a music executive tell me that I was getting too old and that my brand was ‘confusing.’ Because… I’m a songwriter and I post sexy pics on my Instagram and that’s not what female songwriters are suppose to do, especially for my age. I’m 29. I’m fed up with being put in a box. I make my own rules. I’m tired of women getting labeled as ‘hags’ when they get old and guys get labeled as sexy with age.”
In her post, Rexha also shared her thoughts about the pressures on women in the entertainment industry to look and sound younger than they are.
She continued: “I’m turning 30 on August 30, and you know what, I’m not running away from it. I’m not gonna lie about my age or sing songs that I feel will sell better because they sound ‘younger.’ I’m gonna celebrate my age.”
In follow-up posts on Twitter, Rexha added: “There’s no age that you can’t be sexy,” and “I’m not scared to speak out. Especially if it’s my truth.”
Nicole Kidman gave a powerful acceptance speech that called on writers, directors, and studios to support women of all ages in TV and film.
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At the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the “Big Little Lies” actress used her acceptance speech to share her thoughts on ageism in Hollywood and the importance of including women of all ages in film and TV.
In her speech, Kidman listed a number of actresses over the age, including Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Judi Dench, and Susan Sarandon.
She said: “I want to thank you all for your trailblazing performances you have given over your career and how wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old. Twenty years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives, so that’s not the case now.”
Kidman went on to share her hopes for the future of women in Hollywood.
“I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told. It’s only the beginning, and I’m so proud to be a part of a community that is instigating this change. But I implore the writers, directors, studios, and financiers to put passion and money behind our stories. We have proven that we can do this; we can continue to do this, but only with the support of this industry and that money and passion.”
Julia Roberts has also shared her thoughts about Hollywood ageism.
- Getty/Kevin Winter
Julia Roberts has been vocal about refusing to let her age define her career.
In a 2018 interview with UK’s iNews, the Oscar-winning actress said: “I think that’s made up, that at a certain age, the bell is going to ring and you are done. I don’t think anybody buys into that.”
“I don’t know what freak-out we’re all supposed to have, turning 50. For myself, last year, I was quite proud and happy,” Roberts said in the interview.
Maggie Gyllenhaal was once told he she was “too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
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In a 2015 interview, award-winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal shared that she was once told by producers that she was “too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man, even though she was 37 years old at the time.
“It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh,” Gyllenhaal said in The Wrap story.
Helen Mirren spoke up about the double standard men and women face with aging in Hollywood.
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Actress Helen Mirren shared her thoughts on ageism in Hollywood following Maggie Gyllenhaal’s experience about facing age discrimination.
“It’s ridiculous. . . we all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying,” Mirren said at an event hosted by The Wrap, according to Vanity Fair.
Dakota Johnson shared her frustrations about ageism in the film industry, citing the careers of her mother, Melanie Griffith, and grandmother, Tippi Hedren.
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In the article, Johnson said: “Why isn’t my mother in movies? She’s an extraordinary actress! Why isn’t my grandmother in movies? This industry is [sic] brutal. No matter how tough you are, sometimes there’s the feeling of not being wanted. It’s absurd and cut-throat. Whenever I have downtime, I’m unsure that I will ever work again. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a definite thing that happens to me.”
Glenn Close has also been vocal about her thoughts on facing age discrimination in Hollywood.
At the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, award-winning actress Glenn Close, then 70 years old, shared her hopes for the future of women of all ages making waves in the entertainment industry.
“It’s kind of ironic, because we’re at the peak of our power. . . the advent of cable, and all the other places where people can express themselves, will hopefully be helpful for women, because there will be more places to find money for their projects,” Close said at the festival, according to AARP.
Tina Fey made a humorous but poignant nod to age discrimination in Hollywood.
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When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler co-hosted the Golden Globes in 2014, Fey made a joke that rang true for audience members.
In the pair’s opening monologue, Fey said: “Meryl Streep is so brilliant in ‘August: Osage County,’ proving that there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.”
In the audience, Meryl Streep responded with an all-knowing nod.
Madonna talked about the pressures of being a music artist who’s 60 years old.
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In a recent interview with Vogue UK, Madonna shared her thoughts on fighting ageism as a 60-year-old music artist.
“People have always been trying to silence me for one reason or another, whether it’s that I’m not pretty enough, I don’t sing well enough, I’m not talented enough, I’m not married enough, and now it’s that I’m not young enough,” Madonna said in the cover story interview. “Now I’m fighting ageism, now I’m being punished for turning 60.”
Heidi Klum has criticized ageism prevalent in the modeling industry and shared her belief that beauty doesn’t have an expiration date.
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In a 2018 appearance on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” model and entrepreneur Heidi Klum was vocal about ageism prevalent in the modeling and entertainment industry, as well as her belief that confidence shouldn’t – and doesn’t – have an expiration date.
“Why do we always have to see twenty-year-olds or thirty-year-olds doing campaigns?” Klum asked on the show.
“Sometimes people say, ‘You’re 44, you’re turning 45. Why are you not giving the baton to someone else?’ she said on the show. “But I always think there are a lot of women my age, fifties, sixties, seventies, what? Do we have an expiration date? Can we not also still feel sexy?”
Tyra Banks made a statement by removing the age limit for “America’s Next Top Model” auditions.
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In 2017, model and longtime “America’s Next Top Model” host Tyra Banks announced via Twitter that prospective models longing to audition for the competition reality show no longer had to be 27 years or younger, the age restriction that was in place for 23 seasons of the show.
In the video, Banks said: “You want to audition for ‘America’s Next Top Model’? I don’t care how old you are, honey.”