Should actors tell their age? There's been a lot of debate in the media over the years about whether or not sites like IMDb should allow actors' ages to be posted.
I personally fell victim to that dreaded question in an audition once. Randomly, in the middle of a slate, someone who worked for the production company asked me, "How old are you?" We'll talk more about my answer in this post.
Ultimately, it's up to you to make this decision, but I want you to consider a few things first.
There are reputable Facebook groups for actors managed by casting directors, so what I'm about to tell you comes from a post I saw in one of those groups.
The industry standard (apparently released by SAG-AFTRA) is to pick a 5-year age range.
After doing a quick online search, I didn't find a link directly from the union on this topic, but I did find a few other reputable sources saying the same thing. Do your own research, and comment to let me know if you have a good reference.
My acting coach, who has been on the other side of the camera for hundreds of productions, says we should put 0-99.
So which is it?
ASK YOUR AGENT
I like the idea of not using an age range in my casting profiles. Let casting figure it out!
Ask your agent their two cents because they're the ones submitting your profile and have a better sense of what age range to submit you for.
I would love to change my age range from 0-99, but if it complicates filtering roles for my agent, then it's doing more harm than good. It might not, though, so double check with them to see.
If you don't have an agent, then you can either change your age range to 0-99, or post and ask your friends and family on social media to crowd source your five year range.
WHEN YOU SHOULD TELL
There's an exception to the age range rule that's super important.
The only time an actor should reveal their age is if they're a minor, for legal purposes. A production company can get into big trouble if they violate certain laws. If you look 18, but you're 16, do not lie!
SAG-AFTRA has great resources for Young Performers and Parents including a PDF download discussing information for minors.
Age discrimination is a real thing in this business. Once someone knows your age, they can't see you as any other age, which sucks for your casting opportunities.
Here's how that casting conversation I mentioned earlier went:
Producer: How old are you?
Me: I typically get cast as young 20's.
Producer: I'm not from casting, so it doesn't matter if you tell me.
Me: (knowing this is false) What's the age range for the casting?
Me: Yea that's how I typically get cast.
Remember to keep the conversation light and humorous. Don't get defensive. Directors and producers make the final casting decisions, so their knowledge of you is just as important as casting's.
If someone keeps pushing, my suggested response is the following: "Unless my agent gives me explicit instructions to tell my exact age, then I'm going to stick to the standard age range we've discussed." This takes the pressure off of you because now the answer depends on your agent, who is not in the room.
If they keep pushing, just smile and say, "Nope."
***UPDATE: I TOLD MY AGE***
You're going to spend a lot of time with your hair and makeup artist. They're typically sociable, especially if you're not a diva. Hint: don't be a diva. You can be confident without being a diva.
Anywho, I broke my own rule, and now I regret it. I started chatting with my makeup artist on a shoot about weird issues with my hair. She naturally asked, "Hormones make a difference. How old are you?"
I told her, even though I could've said, "I thought that, too, but I've gotten them tested. No issues there."
Hair and makeup artists are friends with everybody. After I told her my age, I only started receiving auditions in that age range, even though I've had multiple people volunteer I must be within a younger age range based on how I look on camera.
I 100% do not blame that makeup artist. I volunteered that info, but didn't ask her not to tell anyone. Even so, once you've said it, you've said it. I have zero problem telling people outside of work how old I am, but there's (unfortunately) too much baggage with telling people in this industry.
Take my advice: even as a very direct person, I'm telling you to deflect when this topic presents itself.
Here's your checklist:
Picking your age range is only one small part of what you need to do as an actor to build a foundation for long-term career growth. If you're ready to learn about everything else you need besides talent, then learn more about your Actor Boss Workflow here.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.