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British actors campaign against ageism in open letter
Photo: © ANP

British actors campaign against ageism in open letter

British actors campaign against ageism in open letter
Photo: © ANP

Several high-profile figures within British film and television have pledged support to a campaign that aims to combat ageism within the industry.

The Acting Your Age Campaign (AYAC) was set up by Nicky Clark in the hope that women over the age of 45 will be granted more opportunities for roles.

An open letter has been released with more than 100 signatures from names like Keeley Hawes, Zawe Ashton Lesley Manville, David Tennant Richard E Grant, Meera Syal and Juliet Stevenson.

The letter reads: “Age discrimination targeting women is an entrenched industry that is outdated and harmful, ignoring the millions of onlookers who appreciate seeing women over 45 tell the stories of our lives.

"Today's in-demand young actress is tomorrow's unemployed middle-aged actress. We are fighting to ensure that our generation of excluded women will be the last generation of excluded women."

Acting Your Age Campaign aims

1) All onscreen fictional content/ light entertainment programmes with male & female leads/presenters must have 50:50 equal gender & age representation. (In drama & comedy - including romantic & platonic leads)

2) All writer/performer dramas & comedy commissioning should feature 50:50 age & gender parity in programming (not just older men/young women)

3) All diversity initiatives across all broadcasters should ensure a range of representation based on age as well as race & ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, disability (EG not just commissioning of stories about young, disabled people this should include children’s programming/presenting)

4)There must no longer be an upper age limit on any new writer schemes/talent searches. (In the case of the BBC representing all audiences forms part of the established charter, this includes women aged over 45)

5) Age should become a mandatory requirement for all broadcaster diversity monitoring (off & on screen) to ensure representation of women over 45. This requires government involvement & an amendment to existing legislation

News & Current Affairs:
6) Presenters of documentaries should be represented equally. 50:50 gender initiatives must include age parity between women & men over the age of 45. (Developing new to screen talent/directors must include women over 45)

7) All contributors to political panels/discussions/news packages/studio guests should feature 50:50 age parity of women over 45 in line with men & young women. (A panel of only middle aged men & young women is dated & unrepresentative)

8) News pieces on women’s physical & mental health, violence against women & appearance based news (EG self esteem impact around filters, cosmetic procedures & appearance shaming) shouldn’t have exclusive bias towards young women. There must be 50:50 age parity for women over 45.

9) Celebrity based/entertainment news should feature women & men over 45 equally in terms of achievements & obituaries of women must use recent photographs as with men.

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