More than 100 actors and public figures in the UK have put their name to an open letter calling for better onscreen representation of older women, to help fight “entrenched ageism” of the entertainment industry.
According to ‘Deadline’, among the signatories are Keeley Hawes, Lesley Manville, Richard E Grant, David Tennant, Zawe Ashton, Meera Syal and Juliet Stevenson.
In the letter, the Acting Your Age Campaign (AYAC) complains that women in the UK only have a “shelf life” on screen while their male colleagues have a “whole life”, and calls for “parity pledge”, with equal representation in the UK between men and women over 45.
The letter states: “Ageism targeting women is an entrenched industry staple that is outdated, the Acting Your Age Campaign (AYAC) complains that women in the UK only have a “shelf life” on screen while their male colleagues have a “whole life”, is harmful and neglects the millions of audience members who appreciate seeing women over 45 telling the stories of our lives.”
AYAC was founded four years ago by Nicky Clark and lays out recommendations including “All onscreen fictional content and light entertainment programmes with male and female leads or presenters should have 50:50 equal gender and age representation”, “writer/performer dramas and comedy commissioning to feature 50:50 age and gender parity in programming, and for all broadcaster diversity initiatives to incorporate age,” “Presenters of documentaries should be represented equally, with 50:50 gender initiatives to include age parity between women and men who are 45-plus”.
“Age parity in political panels, discussions, news packages and studio guests”, News pieces on women’s physical and mental health and violence against women “shouldn’t have exclusive bias towards young women and “Celebrity and entertainment news should feature women and men over 45 equally and use recent photographs.”