Film Forward

Jennifer Aniston Is Once Again Speaking Up For Women In Hollywood — This Time About Aging

"I don’t understand why it’s not something that's celebrated."

In the past year, actress Jennifer Aniston has been vocal about how the tabloid media treats famous women, drawing on her own experience as the subject of rumors — particularly about pregnancy. She has encouraged women to support and value each other for being more than just wives and mothers.

Now, Aniston is once again speaking up for the women in her industry, this time as it relates to aging. In a new interview with Glamour magazine, Rachel Nussbaum asked the actress, who is currently 48, what she would like to change about how women in Hollywood are treated as they turn 50 and older.

"I think we have to change our perspective. I don't think life stops after 50 — if anything, it gets more and more exciting," Aniston said. "For some reason, we don't honor or pay respect to aging. It's something that we look at as a negative, and yet every single person on this planet does it. I don't understand why it's not something that's celebrated, why there's some sort of an expiration date on who you are as a person worth watching and a story being told about you. It makes absolutely no sense."

It's true that actresses are given fewer roles of substance as they get older. Last year, The Wrap cited a study by Polygraph, which showed that male actors actually get more dialogue in films as they age, while women get less. The study found that 53 million words from 2,000 screenplays were spoken by men between 42 and 65, accounting for 39 percent of male dialogue. That's up from 27 million words (20 percent) by men between 22 and 31.

Women 42 to 65, on the other hand, spoke only 11 million words, or 20 percent of female dialogue — compared to 20 million words from women 22 to 31 (38 percent). The stats are almost perfectly reversed. After 65, however, the numbers drop significantly for both genders, to 5 percent for men and 3 percent for women.

For Aniston, there's hope in the number of people who are speaking out about the issue. "We're all still here, and we're doing just fine. So maybe we'll, hopefully, be setting the example of 'this is what it looks like.' "

She mentioned Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, who have remained successful into their 60s and 70s, and both of whom Aniston referred to as "a rock star, gorgeous, goddess."

Just last year, Mirren shared her positive outlook on turning 70, reminding everyone that "you only have two options in life: Die young or get old," and adding that "life is too much fun" to die young. Other women in the entertainment industry, from Sally Field to Madonna, have also spoken out about aging and ageism, in Hollywood and beyond.

"All of the stories, there's so many stories that are there to be told," Aniston told Glamour. "Just because you can't bounce a penny off your tummy anymore, because you're not 22 or 32, doesn't mean that should quantify what makes you relevant and interesting."

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

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