Actors call for age parity in entertainment

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Actors call for age parity in entertainment

Juliet Stevenson, Meera Syal, David Tennant and Zawe Ashton have called for better representation of women older than 45 onscreen to fight the ageism of the entertainment industry.

In an open letter signed by more than 100 actors and public figures, Acting Your Age Campaign AYAC called for equal representation between men and women over 45 and urged immediate action on a parity pledge Today s in-demand young actress is tomorrow s unemployed middle-aged actress, adding: "We are fighting to make sure our generation of excluded women is the last generation of excluded women." Women in the UK have only a shelf life on the screen, while their male colleagues have a whole life it claims.

Also among the signatories are Keeley Hawes, Lesley Manville, Richard E Grant, Sanjeev Bhaskar and the campaign's founder Nicky Clark.

Ageism targeting women is an industry staple that is outdated, harmful and neglects the millions of audience members who appreciate seeing women over 45 tell the stories of their lives, the letter states.

The group, founded four years ago, laid out several recommendations for news and current affairs, as well as broadcast and production company commissioners.

Among the recommendations are: all onscreen - fictional content and light entertainment programmes with male and female leads or presenters should have 50: 50 equal gender and age representation.

It calls for writer-producing dramas and comedy commissioning to include 50: 50 age and gender parity in programming, and for all broadcaster diversity initiatives to include age.

It says presenters of documentaries should be represented equally, with 50: 50 gender initiatives to include age parity between women and men who are 45-plus. It also calls for age parity in political panels, discussions, news packages and studio guests. A panel of only middle-aged men and young women is dated and unrepresentative, it states.

It states that news pieces on women's physical and mental health and violence against women shouldn't have exclusive bias against young women. Celebrity and entertainment news should feature women and men over 45 and use recent photographs.

The letter states that this isn't an attack on artistic freedom. This shows that too often excluding older women is enabled by the cloak of artistic choices.