PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Long before they walk the red carpet, posing for paparazzi, A-list actors must capture the eye of casting directors in an industry that doesn’t always put age before beauty.
Gabrielle Carteris was cast as 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman on Bevery Hills 90210 at the age of 29. Two decades before public data bases like IMDB put an actor’s age on blast. “The producers came to me and said ‘if we had known your age, you never would have gotten the role,” she said.
“This is a casting site, a hiring site and when the first thing that comes up is their age, that’s a subconscious bias that’s created,” she said.
That is why Carteris, now the president of the actor’s union SAG-AFTRA, is defending a new California state law, requiring these sites to remove someone’s age, if requested.
But, not everyone is on board. So far, IMDB has refused to comply with the law and plans to challenge it in court.
“I think it’s unconstitutional,” said attorney Alan Epstein. He is a Philadelphia lawyer who concentrates his practice in employment rights. He says that while the law is well intentioned, he thinks the website will have the upper-hand.
“It comes down to what the constitution says and basically it’s not constitutional for the government to tell people what and how to say things,” Epstein said. Having dealt with several age discrimination lawsuits himself, Epstein sympathizes with the issue of ageism in Hollywood and hopes society will take steps toward change.
“I’ve made the analogy that men sometimes are considered to be fine wine; get better with age. Women are more akin to the grapes that get thrown out after production,” Epstein said.