Jamie Denbo, who plays Ginsberg on the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black, recently took to social media to blast a casting call that she deemed both sexist and ageist. In a rant that started on Twitter and then migrated to Facebook where there are no character limits, Denbo blasted a Hollywood that not only continually casts much-younger actresses to play the love interests of older men, but that actively discriminates against older actresses to do so.
"I was just informed that at the age of 43, I am TOO OLD to play the wife of a 57 year old," the OITNB actress tweeted on Wednesday. "Oh, the characters also have an 18-year-old daughter. I am TOO OLD to be the mother of an 18 year-old," she continued. "...this fucker wants to be TV married to a 38-year-old -- TOPS."
After Denbo had been taken aback by the attention her tweets received, she posted a longer message on Facebook, according to a screenshot acquired by Entertainment Tonight. In it, she said, "I deliberately chose to not publish a personal blog post or a longer piece about it (there IS one sitting on my desktop) because I didn't want to completely blackball myself as an actor."
She also said that "there are WAY more important things to rage about in the world right now besides obvious and regular accounts of sexism (and ageism) in Hollywood." However, she says that the interaction with the casting agent "gob smacked" her, and was a blow to her ego.
Denbo is not the first actress to call out sexism and ageism in Hollywood's casting practices. Liv Tyler once said that, at age 38, she was a "second-class citizen" in Hollywood. In 2006, actress Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to fight Hollywood sexism. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star Rachel Bloom recently took to Instagram to share particularly egregious calls she'd come across, including one seeking a woman “to play a variety of attractive girls” and another looking for simply "pretty faces."
Rose McGowan has also been outspoken in calling out the sexism in casting and says she quit acting as a result of it. She even went so far as to tell The Hollywood Reporter that she "could care less" whether speaking out jeopardised her career. On an appearance on Chelsea Handler's self-titled talk show earlier this year, McGowan said, “Cause no waves. Don’t upset anybody. Don’t upset the status quo….If you’re in Hollywood and you’re an actress, don’t step out of line, little girl, because there’s another one right behind you.”
McGowan speaks from first-hand experience; in 2015, she was fired by her agent after taking to Twitter to call out a sexist casting call she received for an Adam Sandler project.
Denbo ended her Facebook rant with "one little word of advice to the 'creators'" who might be reading: "Just make sure that whichever 30-something you cast is a SPECTACULAR actress, because don’t kid yourselves, she is gonna have to really work hard to make it look like she’s attracted to a 57-year-old."
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