The Internet Movie Database, otherwise known as IMDb, and other entertainment database sites are now legally bound to remove the age of an actor if they request it. Why? It all comes down to discrimination.
We know the entertainment business has always been sexist but it's also known for being ageist. Most recently Renée Zellweger had to defend herself from a critic who felt she shouldn't age or change her appearance but when it comes to lesser known actors whether you get, or are even able to audition for, a job may depend on those hiring knowing your age.
A few years ago actor Junie Hoang sued IMDb for revealing her true age, which she said cost her jobs in an industry obsessed with youth. As she put it, “In the entertainment industry, youth is king.” She lost, and appealed, then lost again. But SAG-AFTRA and others have been working on legislation to prevent this kind of thing for a while.
While it's already against federal and state law to discriminate against someone for a job based on their age and other factors, a judge in California has now ruled the entertainment industry is doing a poor job of it. The Hollywood Reporter writes:
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation that requires certain entertainment sites, such as IMDb, to remove – or not post in the first place – an actor”s age or birthday upon request.
The law, which becomes effective January 1, applies to database sites that allow paid subscribers to post resumes, headshots or other information for prospective employers. Only a paying subscriber can make a removal or non-publication request. Although the legislation may be most critical for actors, it applies to all entertainment job categories.
“It is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood”s casting process,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris of the situation previously. “This problem exists for all performers, but most distinctly for women. Performers create characters and often employ illusion to do so. That”s acting.” She added that age information provided by sites like IMDb gave “those making the decisions about whom to audition and whom to hire” an “almost-automatic age discrimination.”
Internet Association spokesman Noah Theran said they, “remain concerned with the bill and the precedent it will set of suppressing factual information on the internet.” Its president and CEO Michael Beckerman said prior to the ruling “internet companies should not be punished for how people use public data,” and “requiring the removal of factually accurate age information across websites suppresses free speech.”
Carteris famously played 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman on 90210 when she was actually 29. She revealed this secret a few years ago while also telling the story of how a magazine found out her real age from the DMV. “By that time, the show had been on long enough, so it was OK,” she said but this weekend she thanked Governor Brown and the bill”s author, Assemblymember Ian Calderon, “on behalf of everyone in the industry who has struggled with age discrimination.”