Ageism in Hollywood

Dianne writes in about ageism in Hollywood:

Like most people who patrol your site I’m seeking work in the industry. However, I finished college 8 years ago and my major was in English and Creative Writing, and my internship (though competitive) was with a newspaper in Oregon. I would happily intern for no money to get experience for a few months, but those internships want college students, or people right out of college. I’ve applied for many at this point. To put a point on it, how does someone who’s a little older than most people they’re vying for jobs with look appealing to studios/agencies. I’m a screenwriter new to L.A. trying to get a foot in, like everyone else 😉

Let’s be clear– ageism is a real thing in Hollywood. But it’s not just actresses who have this problem.1 Producers, agents, and executives like to have assistants who are young, preferably just out of film school.

This might partly be due to prurient interests, but largely it’s because they want an assistant who’s not set in their ways. They want to be able to mold an assistant to their way of doing things. Plus, many like to feel like they’re a mentor. They know they’re not paying you much, but if you learn something, too, you might feel like the whole experience was worth it.

On the other hand, there are those who want an experienced assistant. They want someone who can jump in, feet first, from day one. They’ll usually pay for that kind of experience, too.

But what if you’re in Dianne’s position, with life experience but no entertainment industry experience? Is ageism going to kill your chances?

Only if you let it.

Plausible Deniability

It’s not always easy to know when to lie on your resume. But when it comes to ageism and the no-experience resume, you should make yourself appear as young as you can get away with.

Not that you should put your birthday on your resume, but people can infer your age from the year you graduated college. You were probably in your early 20’s then; 8 years later puts you around 30. That’s not old, but again, ageism is a thing.

Now, be honest with yourself. Do you still look 22? Maybe. Maybe 24 or 25 would be more reasonable. You don’t want them to know you lied about your age the moment you walk in…

Strangers with Candy
Strangers with Candy is a classic.

Credit Where It’s Due

With ageism out of the way, what about college credit for internships?

There’s a surprisingly easy solution to that, too. LA City College offers Cooperative Education Work Experience. You don’t have to be a full-time student, but you do get college credit. It’s a fairly easy way to get around the rules about internships requiring that you earn credits.

If you need further help on misleading your future employer presenting your credentials in the best light, I offer a service where I clean up your resume (for a modest fee). I guide you through the process, step-by-step, so not only will you have a nice CV at the end of it, but you’ll know how to continually update and improve it throughout your career.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Don’t get me wrong; there is definitely an ageism problem for actresses, too.↩
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