We’re noticing change in film industries across the globe, where women are getting better roles than they used to. However, sexist ageism is something that remains deep-rooted in the films – both Bollywood and Hollywood. We often come across male actors being casted in stronger roles, and getting more work as they age. They even end up playing characters that are decades younger than them.

Hindustan Times

But, when it comes to female actors, they’re not even deemed fit for characters their own age. The blatant ageism is something that has made it difficult for women to explore their potential as actors.

And, a lot of female actors end up missing out on films, because they’re considered ‘too old’ for them.

1. Shefali Shah

The actor has talked about ageism and stereotypes associated with women in the industry, time and again. In an interview, she mentioned how she started losing work, because the roles were not substantial. She even decided to retire after noticing that there isn’t enough work for older women.  

After a point, I decided if I’m not getting the work that drives me crazy, I will sit at home. I reached this peace that such kind of work won’t come every day. And the few films I did raise that bar. I’ve said no to work even if it meant sitting at home for two years, not doing anything.

-Shefali Shah to Indian Express

2. Neena Gupta

The actor made her second innings in the film industry after a post saying that she’s ‘open to work’. And, just like that she’s always been honest and upfront about disappointments in her field of work. She even tweeted about how older actors like her, are not chosen for projects that portray characters of their age – and hence miss out on work.

3. Hema Malini 

Hema Malini talked about not getting enough roles, or even good work for that matter, as an aftermath of ageing. She mentioned how filmmakers do not ‘risk’ investing in making films about older women, or casting older women in projects. 

Internationally, such beautiful films are made with elderly actresses but that doesn’t happen here. They don’t want to invest money because filmmaking is too expensive so why would they risk it with me? 

-Hema Malini to PTI

4. Seema Pahwa

She’s talked about being stereotyped as a ‘mother’ and how women keep getting the same roles after a point. In an interview with Indian Express Online, the actor also mentioned how she didn’t get enough work at first, and even if she did it was usually cliched, which meant losing out on roles if she said ‘no’. 

Indian Express Online

5. Madhuri Dixit

Madhuri Dixit talked about the general stereotypes associated with women who continue to work after ‘a certain age’. She mentioned that people suggest retirement or taking a break, just because she’s aged. Additionally, she even pointed out that older women are hardly considered in the industry and even a small gap is considered a ‘comeback’ for them, which is not the same for men.

 We often hear, “Arey aapki toh age ho gayi hai, ab aapko kya dance karna hai” or “ab to aap bhagwan ka naam lijiye”.

-Madhuri Dixit

6. Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin has never shied away from taking a stand against ageism in Hollywood. She even mentioned how she’s faced rejections in her career because of her age, and she ends up hearing things like ‘they like you, they’ve just decided to go younger’.

I would say that sexism and ageism are probably my two biggest obstacles.

-Kathy Griffin to People Magazine


7. Reese Witherspoon

The actor has been a part of some great projects, and she even started creating roles for older women, with her production company. However, even she dealt with rejections in her career that were implied at her age. For instance, Stevie Nicks had mentioned that she told Reese Witherspoon, that the actor was ‘too old’ to play the singer in her biopic.

8. Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde had talked about being turned down for the role of Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf of Wall Street, because she was considered “too old for the role” at the age of 28. This is probably not the first time, when an acclaimed female actor was considered ‘old’ to play a character her own age.

9. Jamie Denbo

The Orange Is The New Black actor had pointed out about sexist ageism in Hollywood, when she tweeted that a male actor dismissed her for playing his character’s wife on-screen. She had justifiably critisized the decision of removing her from a part that she deserved. 

The Wrap

10. Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks had talked about being rejected to play Mary Jane in Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man, because again, she was deemed ‘too old’ for it. This happens even when male actors keep getting casted opposite female actors who’re decades younger than them. 

Tobey and I are basically the same age, and I was told I was too old to play her. I’m like, ‘Oh, okay, that’s what I’ve signed up for’.

-Elizabeth Banks

As superficial as it gets.