Its creeping up to my birthday and I’m going to be turning 42. How the hell did that happen????
I’ve always loved my birthday and getting older never seemed to bother me, that was until I turned 39. It hit my like a ton of bricks. There was something about that big 4 - 0 that felt oooooold. Looking back now it wasn’t necessarily to do with looking older, it was more to do with my work, my career, and other peoples perceptions of me.
There is so much in the media in regards to women over 40 becoming invisible, being seen less both on and off screen, and employment being more difficult. Now I’m the breadwinner in our house and I couldn’t afford for my job prospects to lessen. So I was scared!!! To be honest I still am.
I have friends who I admire and respect scratching around trying to drum up work that just doesn’t seem to exist and it’s terrifying. Gone are the days when you would get 3 or 4 meetings a month for various stage and screen jobs, you are lucky to get into a room with 1 casting director never mind the actual director or producer. This is partly to do with there being less parts to go for and partly because casting has changed for us who’ve been hawking ourselves around for 20 years.
Some of us have been around for so long that everyone is aware of who we are and what we can do and so they don’t feel like they actually need to see us in a room. This can be taken as a compliment but I see it as a negative, I feel like I’ve played a northern, down to earth, working class women in various guises over the years and I have so much more that I can and want to play, without getting into the room how can I show these directors/producers/casting directors that I want to get out of the box they’ve neatly put me in? Another reason is that we now have ‘self taping’, which involves actors asking other actor friends to come to their home to record scenes on our phones and then send them electronically to our agents who then pass them onto casting. It costs far less for the casting department in both time and money. Some people have a problem with this, for me I’ve splashed out a £100 on a home kit with lights and backdrop, and I can take my own sweet time to get the perfect ‘take’ to send. All this boils down to meetings being gold dust, and when you’re over 40, they’re the gold dust on the gold dust.
My gorgeous pal actor Sarah Parish turned 50 this week, she looks amazing and is one of the lucky one of my friends who works, and has worked pretty consistently for the past 20 years. Yet still as we gathered around the lunch table the conversation inevitably turned back to age.
Sex and City turning 20 this year was the catalyst, we all remembered when it came it out, how it was revolutionary, how it made our life and decisions we made okay. We could be career driven, we could be single, we could enjoy sex without strings, we could be confident, funny, successful women with strong female friendships.
The menopause is coming, various body parts are starting to lose the gravity battle and our lives are much more complicated but I want to keep my eye on the prize, we may not be getting younger but 20 after Sex and City first began I spent a gorgeous lunchtime with my incredible, successful, funny, gorgeous, strong, warrior friends who have loved, lost, failed and succeeded and we laughed our arses off whilst celebrating our long friendship…. long may it continue.
We can’t make time stand still, but we can make the time we have matter. Its fine to look back at our youth with nostalgia but we must enjoy the life we have right now.
Fight to stay visible, fight to stay relevant, and fight for our place in the world. Age should be a badge of victory not of shame.