Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Coming Out - Metaphorically Speaking.

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure I am willing to come clean, tell all and "come out", metaphorically speaking. I have kept my age a secret for fear of prejudice. Silly, silly me!

I have been in the entertainment industry for 36 years, this year. SO yes, I am AT LEAST 36 years old. After the age of 30 it became clear to me that it was not to my advantage to tell anyone, and I mean ANYONE, other than my closest friends, how old I was. Not as a singer, not as an actor, and especially not as a stunt person.

As long as casting directors, directors, producers, managers, et al, had no idea - I was ageless. I had a RANGE. I could not be pigeon-holed. My only limits were that I was a character actress with an alto voice. To me, that was an advantage, not a detriment. But once the aforementioned powers-that-be actually KNOW how old you are, or your age is gratuitously advertised on Entertainment Tonight, GAME OVER!

I read an article recently about the beautiful and exquisite Sela Ward (my husband adores her!). She had been in talks with a particular director or producer for a project and was, basically, informed that they wanted "the Sela from 10 years ago". How can she be any other Sela than she already is?? I just don't get that. In essence, what they were saying was they didn't want Sela Ward, they wanted someone who looked like a younger, newer Sela Ward. Why bring Sela Ward in at all?

Patricia Arquette has been doing a great deal of documentary work on women aging in Hollywood. Searching for Debra Winger is a documentary on the film industry's most talented and award-winning personalities and the pressures they face in Hollywood as aging female actresses. Debra Winger LEFT the biz, at the height of her career, to be with her family. But now, even if she wants to get "back in" the industry, outside of self-production, is it too late? Has she been forgotten? Has the "new" Debra Winger come along and replaced her? Does she even care?

It seems the most vital, brilliant, talented, experienced, and beautiful women in this industry over the age of 35 have taken the bull by the horns and have begun producing. Brava! If the work doesn't come to you maybe you can create the work.

Well, I digress.

I can now imagine how my gay friends feel. They are not ashamed of who they are, what they have accomplished and where they feel they belong. They have no compunction about shouting from the rooftops "I am Gay and proud of it!” Maybe that analogy is a bit of a stretch but it seems to be the only one I can truly relate to.

I still have friends in Hollywood that would not reveal their age even if their lives depended on it.

In the past I had sworn people to secrecy. What kind of life is that? I lived like I was ashamed of my accomplishments, my experience, the roads I had traveled.

A few years ago I worked for a prominent casting director. We would occasionally go out to lunch and share stories. I began to open up about my life experiences. Both she and her associate looked at me dead in the eyes and proclaimed that I was a pathological liar because there was no way I could have accomplished everything I claimed to have accomplished.

You see, if I had come out and said "Of course I have, because I'm 35, 38, 40 years old. Voila, problem solved. My response was "Call my mother, she'll back me up". Can I just put a big L on my forehead? Why, oh, why couldn't I just own up to it? There is nothing like living a lie.

So here I am sitting in my office, at my computer, plunking on the keys avoiding the inevitable. Am I ready? Ok, here goes.

...I am somewhere between 40 and death. There, I said it. I feel so much better.

You weren't expecting an exact number, were you? Baby steps, baby steps.

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