You may have read recently about the flap over IMDB publishing the real age of an actress, and whether that affected the roles she could get. Now two unions representing actors have joined the fray -- ridiculously, I might add. Some in Hollywood may practice age discrimination -- as do people in many other industries -- but that's no defense against the truth.
The official word: Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Deplore Age Discrimination Facilitated by IMDb.com and Similar Online Databases
Los Angeles (October 27, 2011) — An actor’s actual age is irrelevant to casting. What matters is the age range that an actor can portray. For the entire history of professional acting, this has been true but that reality has been upended by the development of IMDb as an industry standard used in casting offices across America.
IMDb publishes the actual dates of birth of thousands of actors without their consent, most of them not celebrities but rank-and-file actors whose names are unknown to the general public. When their actual ages then become known to casting personnel, the 10+ year age range that many of them can portray suddenly shrinks, and so do their opportunities to work.
Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strongly believe that businesses like IMDb have a moral and legal obligation not to facilitate age discrimination in employment. Entertainment industry employers who would never directly ask a potential employee’s age routinely access that information through IMDb and its professional subscription site IMDbPro. IMDb has the power to remove the temptation for employers to engage in age discrimination by accessing this information.
We are disappointed that IMDb has rejected the efforts of Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and other entertainment industry unions, and workers to work together to reach a solution to this problem. It is time for IMDb to step up and take responsibility for the harm it has caused, and to take appropriate measures to protect entertainment industry workers, including actors, from losing jobs for the enhancement of IMDb’s financial statements.
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AFTRA on Twitter (http://twitter.com/aftra) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/aftrafanpage)