Film Forward

What Sally Field Said About Ageism Shows What Hollywood (And The United States) Get Wrong

"It is what this country is."

Sally Field has starred in many of our favorite movies, but her long acting career also means that she has experienced firsthand a lot of the institutional problems within the industry. In an interview with TIME  about her upcoming movie, Hello, My Name Is Doris, Field was asked about some of these issues, and her response shows what Hollywood keeps getting wrong.

Hello, My Name Is Doris is a film about a 60-something-year-old woman who has the hots for a man in her office half her age — an unusual premise considering Hollywood's leading female roles are overwhelmingly written for young women. Naturally, the topic of ageism in Hollywood was brought up, and Field had this to say: 

[Ageism is] blatant in the country. It's affected me in ways that I can't even calculate. Because I grew up in the business and I've been here for so long, I've been affected by images of women my entire existence and unconsciously both adapted to them, tried to fit into them, and then also at the same time went, "Oh, F-U, I can't do this." It's always a battle inside myself, and I know that most of the women in this country feel that, even if they're not actors. It isn't just Hollywood. Hollywood illuminates it and perpetuates it, but it is what this country is in some ways.

Field also touched on the ongoing conversation about the industry's lack of diversity that gained national attention with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Field recalled her female peers fighting to be treated equally back in the day, but noted that this time the conversation is much larger and more inclusive.

"I remember Diane Keaton once complained that men had so many more opportunities. She was shot down for being a whiner," Field said. "I remember thinking, Wow. It was brave of her, but it wasn't taken as any kind of serious comment. I felt — and Jane Fonda, and Goldie [Hawn] — that all you could do was just keep on keeping on. But this wave is bigger — it's much more inclusive. It is not only about women, it is about people of color, and that's a bigger, louder voice. I might also say it's because there are men involved — I hate to say it — so it's taken more seriously. I think if it were just women, probably it would not have quite the effect."

Cover image via s_bukley /

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