Age discrimination in Hollywood is a longtime problem — Norma Desmond was stressed about getting old almost 70 years ago in Sunset Boulevard — but it still exists. Earlier this week at a premiere party for Younger, a TV Land dramedy about a 40-something woman who lies about her age to land a job at a publishing house, the stars of the show spoke with Vulture about ageism in the movie and TV industry.
“I have been told to lie,” says Debi Mazar, who plays Maggie on Younger. “They think you will be more likely to get a job, and they’re like, ‘Let’s not remind them of your age.’” When Mazar was regularly landing films like Goodfellas, Batman Forever, and Empire Records as a young actress, she says she thought her older female peers were exaggerating. “When Rosanna Arquette made Searching for Deborah Winger, she wanted me to be in the movie. It was about aging in Hollywood, and she did it 20 years ago. But I was like, ‘Rosanna, I don’t want to be one of those women who says, I’m getting older, I can’t work,’” Mazar says. “I was still young. I didn’t want to be in that bandwagon because I always felt like I would work. And I am. I might not work as much as Jennifer Lawrence. But I did at one time, and I am happy to slow down.”
Miriam Shor, who plays Diana, says that she lost parts for being honest about her age. “I have not lied about my age in situations where I think it may have been expected, because I don’t want to,” she told Vulture. “I watched someone ask for my age, and I was like, ‘I know I am supposed to lie right now, but I am not going to,’ and I watched that job slip away as I was saying it. But I have played a man. I find it hilarious that it is believable I have different genitalia, but I cannot be four years younger than I am.”
As the star of Younger, Sutton Foster plays Liz, a character whose whole story line is built around concealing her age to get a job. But in real life, Foster says she’s always been honest about her birthday: “I have never felt the need to lie about it, I have always felt really proud of my age. When I am 60, I might have to lie about it. But I feel like every year I have earned. And to lie about it seems to cheat it. I feel proud to be 42.”