Actors including Juliet Stevenson, Mira Sayal, David Tennant and Zavi Ashton have called for a better representation of women over 45 on screen to combat “entrenched” ageism in the entertainment industry.
In an open letter signed by over 100 actors and public figures, the Acting Your Age (AYAC) campaign called for equal representation in the UK of men and women over 45 and called for immediate action on a “parity pledge”.
“Today’s in-demand young actress is tomorrow’s unemployed middle-aged actress,” he said, adding, “We’re fighting to make our generation of isolated women the last generation of isolated women.”
Women in the UK only have a “best before date” on screen, while their male counterparts have “a lifetime”, he claims.
Also among the signatories are Keely Hawes, Lesley Manville, Richard Grant, Sanjeev Bhaskar and campaign founder Nicky Clark.
“Ageism targeting women is an ingrained industry standard that is outdated, harmful and ignored by the millions of viewers who enjoy watching women over 45 tell the stories of our lives,” the letter reads.
The group, which was founded four years ago, has made many recommendations for authorized broadcasters and producers, as well as news and current events.
Recommendations include that all fictional content on screen and light entertainment programs starring or hosting male and female characters should have a 50:50 gender-to-age ratio.
It also encourages writers/performers of commissioned dramas and comedies to show 50:50 age and gender parity in programming, and all broadcaster diversity initiatives must include age.
News reports say documentary filmmakers should be equally represented and 50:50 gender initiatives should include age parity between women and men over 45. It also requires respect for age parity in political discussions, discussions, news reports and studio guests. “The panel of only men and middle-aged young women is outdated and unrepresentative,” it says.
In addition, it states that news stories about women’s physical and mental health and violence against women “should not be exclusively biased against young women.” Whereas celebrity and entertainment news should equally feature women and men over 45 and use recent photos.
“This is not an infringement on creative freedom,” the letter says. “It highlights that too often the exclusion of older women is possible under the guise of artistic choice.”