Yesterday, Governor of California Jerry Brown signed AB 1687–a law that requires entertainment sites such as IMDB to remove or refrain from posting an actor’s age or birthdate on their info page upon request. As of January 1, 2017, the law will apply to any site or database that asks users or subscribers to post headshots or resumes for casting purposes. While it primarily applies to actors, this requirement will extend to others working in the entertainment industry as well.
The SAG-AFTRA union lobbied for the bill to be signed into law, saying that it will help prevent age discrimination within the casting process. In a piece for The Hollywood Reporter back in August, current SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris wrote that “it is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood’s casting process,” calling it “blatant discrimination”:
This problem exists for all performers, but most distinctly for women. Performers create characters and often employ illusion to do so. That’s acting. … Many actors have endured age discrimination of some sort throughout their careers. Those isolated, individual cases have now morphed into the almost-automatic age discrimination made possible by the online casting services. The information is put front and center before those making the decisions about whom to audition and whom to hire.
However, those in opposition to AB 1687 argue that the existence of such a law impinges on free speech. Internet Association president Michael Beckerman wrote his own column for The Hollywood Reporter around the same time as Cartertis’, said that “requiring the removal of factually accurate age information across websites suppresses free speech.”
But what do the actors themselves, many of whom will be directly affected by the passing of this bill into law, have to say? One who anonymously spoke to THR said that while it won’t be a solution across the board, “it will provide significant relief to the working actors most impacted by age discrimination.” Calderon adds that it will likely have a greater impact on those actors who are not as well known as some of the big names in Hollywood, actors who are trying to get a foot in the door and don’t want to be prejudged by casting directors simply based on their age.
As for the numbers, it’s being reported that the bill passed with an overwhelming majority–so while some may not be happy about what it could signify regarding the freedom of information, this could mean a change for which actors land what jobs moving forward.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
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