In which our Diva settles into her seat at the grownup table
Lately I've been hearing a lot that "40 is the new 30." Just in time for me -- casting-wise, at least, I haven't had much in the way of 30s. I was still playing 19 at 32, and it's only in the last year or so that I've been getting tapped for moms. It's kind of ridiculous how much fun I had at an audition the other day, watching half a dozen preteen girls chatter in the waiting area, considering which of them might be plausible as my daughter.
I come by it honestly -- when my parents were my age, I was a junior in college! But when I look at a family photo from that year, my mom doesn't look any older to me than I do now. Which one friend recently summed up succinctly as "No WAY you're 40!"
But I am, for a whole month now. As an actress, conventional wisdom says I should be depressed, if not outright terrified. Conventional wisdom says my career might as well be over.
Except for the part where it's just really getting into gear.
I love that they look at me now for a mom, or a professional. Or even a wacky neighbor. Wacky neighbors are never in their 20s for some reason. In your 20s, the roles out there are at least five hot babes (not me!) for every quirky best friend. With my castable range finally firmly in the 30s (just as I'm leaving them behind in real life!), there's actually a lot more open to me, and there still will be when I'm actually getting cast as 40. (All while not giving up on my ambition to play a woman who died at 32. But that's for stage, where the illusion is that much more elastic.)
Oh, I know it's not all roses. Leading ladies are still expected to be hot first and everything else second. The industry's idea of women's stories still tends to be frustratingly limited, and older actresses still routinely hit stupid walls. But for now, for me, things are looking pretty bright.
And maybe I'm just noticing them more, but it seems like in recent years there have been more 40-and-beyond actress footsteps to follow, on more and varied paths. A few of my favorites...
During her time leading the CBC series Snakes & Ladders, Catherine Disher said in an interview that she welcomed the kind of characters opening up to her now, having "always been a character actress with ingenue eyes and hair." (I totally relate to those first two, but have coveted her hair since 1992.) Audrey Flankman on that series, and her current role as senior-agent-cum-den-mother Maggie Norton on The Border, are unapologetically the age they are and undilutedly awesome.
Have I mentioned that I got to play sidekick to Patricia Belcher in Cyrus? Oh, right, umpteen times. But it doesn't get any less cool, so please forgive me. Her recurring role as no-bullshit prosecutor Caroline Julian is one of the best reasons to watch Bones, and her resume includes drama, comedy, commercials and standup. There is no mistaking this lady for anyone else.
Emma Thompson is, well, Emma Thompson. I've been hooked since what she refers to as her "good women in corsets phase," and the work just keeps getting better.
Cate Blanchett is shaking her head at the people who think she seems too young and glam for Blanche DuBois, whom Tennessee Williams' stage directions describe as "about 30." Which either substantiates that "new 30" thing, or supports my hunch that "that old" is often not as old as we think it is, and that maybe what we're confusing for seeming/looking younger is really just being comfortable in one's skin. Oh, and did you notice her on the cover of this month's Vogue? 40 belongs anywhere!
Back to TV (and Canada), Amanda Tapping was my favorite thing about two different Stargate series. Now I get to see her front and center of Sanctuary. Helen Magnus is, of course, well over 40 (over 150, in fact), but there are paranormal reasons for that. This is what 40ish looks like too.
There are plenty more I could mention - Mary McCormack, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Helen Mirren - but you get the idea. Bring it on, life!
Song for today: "Hold On" by KT Tunstall. Because I woke up with it in my head this morning, and the world will indeed turn if you're ready or not!