I know it’s shocking to imagine that a person who makes her living pretending to be other people hasn’t been totally forthcoming about the intimate details of her life. As a recovered actress myself, I can see why she would lie. Hollywood is incredibly unforgiving to women as they get older. And by older, I mean out of high school.
See, this is the same industry that told 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal she was too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. I can relate. When I gave birth to my daughter and she was just seconds old and the doctor yelled, “It’s a girl,” I fully expected him to then ask me if she could play younger. Because it’s entirely possible that in Los Angeles even a baby girl could be accused of being past her prime.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and worked in or near Hollywood for the duration of my time here. And while I could never quite get used to lying about anything, including my age, I can’t help but wonder if I’d have been more successful if I had.
At 26, while I was still chasing the Hollywood dream, I could only get auditions for roles as “Mother.” There are plenty of 26-year-old moms, but it became clear that the role of mom was the only way any female in her mid-20s was seen. By 30, every actress I knew had either made it or quit. Since I hadn’t made it, I quit. Meanwhile, men are just hitting their stride and still have hope of being referred to as an “up-and-comer” at 35.
I’d never advocate for anyone to live a lie, but actresses are forced to do so. Women aren’t judged by what age they can portray. They’re judged by what age they are. To me, Rebel Wilson lied by necessity. It’s hard to imagine that a 35-year-old woman would have gotten cast as a college freshman in Pitch Perfect. But Wilson was fabulous in the movie, and it turns out her age doesn’t really matter at all.
So kudos to Rebel Wilson, Sandra Bullock or any other female who figures out how to find success in an industry that thinks 26-year-old women can only be seen as mothers of 10-year-olds. But remember, some crack journalist is on your tail and good at math. So if you lie about your age, they will catch you and humiliate you like the age-criminal that you are.
Rebel Wilson’s humor and talent are ageless, so she shouldn’t feel bad about getting caught lying. Everybody else is doing it, and she’s not alone. And as embarrassing as it must be to get caught lying about your age, there’s icing on the cake: No matter what age Rebel Wilson really is, she’ll always be younger than me. No lie.