Gabrielle Carteris is best known for playing teen Andrea Zuckerman on the '90s TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210," a show she joined when she was about to turn 30. She doesn't believe she would ever get near that role today, since casting directors would quickly see her real age online and dismiss her as too old.
Carteris just posted a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, blasting "the ageism that permeates Hollywood's casting process" and hurts modern actors the most because many websites publish their real ages.
"My role on 'Beverly Hills, 90210' could not have happened for me today, plain and simple. I would never have been called to audition for the part of 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman if they had known I was 29. Electronic casting sites did not exist in 1990; today, they are prevalent and influential. And they affect casting decisions even when casting personnel don't recognize their unconscious bias."
Carteris is president of the SAG-AFTRA union, and her column promoted California's AB 1687, which aims, as she wrote, to "stop to the rampant misuse of personal information and ensure legal, fair hiring practices when employers use online casting and data services."
Here's a section of the bill:
"This bill would prohibit a commercial online entertainment employment service provider that enters into a contractual agreement to provide specified employment services to an individual paid subscriber from publishing information about the subscriber's age in an online profile of the subscriber and would require the provider, within 5 days, to remove from public view in an online profile of the subscriber certain information regarding the subscriber's age on any companion Internet Web site under the provider's control if requested by the subscriber."
Carteris dismissed the argument that it could have a chilling effect on free speech, adding more of her reasoning for the bill:
"What worries me is that my fellow actors are not being afforded the same opportunities today — actors who are trying to make a living and find their big break. They face blatant age discrimination every day as websites routinely used for casting talent [...] force birthdates and ages on casting decision-makers without their even realizing it."
If the real problem is the age bias of casting directors, then you could argue that hiding real ages just feeds into that bias, and that's not where change is needed. But you can't legislate people's knee-jerk reactions, and her point seems to be that removing this one potential source of bias on "subscription-based entertainment websites" may help casting directors open their minds to an actor's potential beyond just a number.
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