Age is something that society seems extremely obsessed with, I don’t personally understand it, other than a form of judging people based on what they look like. In the acting industry it makes a lot of sense, we have to portray a character that is believable to the audience, which includes matching our physical appearance to the circumstances of the character.
I recently got a new set of headshots done by a wonderful headshot photographer called Anna Hull. She was able to get varied shots, and she only used natural light, which I think adds to the authentic nature of them. The shoot was great fun, relaxed and professional, I love the way the colours have come out. I have posted a selection of the images on this page and I would be very interested to know what age you think I am from these photographs. I have a good idea what my playing age is but some unbiased opinion would be great.
Aside from playing age, age is something that crosses my mind a lot, this is for two reasons:
1. I get asked my age a lot, in fact almost always when I meet someone for the first time. This is because I look a lot younger than I am. Not only in my face but I am also very petite, I compound the matter by dressing “younger”. But then when I talk to people my thoughts and experiences give away the fact that I am significantly older than they might think. I have also always found that I get easily intimidated, which means that my body language and behaviour can also be interpreted as “young”. This is a chicken-and-egg situation, the intimidation comes from the way that I am treated based on people initial judgements, my reaction (to go into my shell) does not help. However, I am always in the situation that based on what I look like I always have to prove myself before being taken seriously (the antithesis of this is a man in his 30’s/40’s in a suit who automatically gets respect); I’m sure many people can associate with this kind of prejudice.
2. Having taken a different path in life for the first few years of my career I am now more junior and less confident in my field than if I had been working in it for longer, and less confident than my peers who are my age and younger. Don’t get me wrong, I think that all my experiences aid me in doing a good job (actually a more informed and creative job than otherwise), but I am not very good at pushing myself forward (partly due to the introvert qualities that I possess that I discussed in a previous post). This is massively accentuated by the first impressions that people get of me. I never fully appreciated it but I think that a lot of people write me off as soon as they meet me because they think that I am young. This was highlighted by meeting someone recently who didn’t judge me (or didn’t let initial impressions sway her thoughts of me), I explained that I am interested in flexible work with young people in the theatre, leading workshops (which I do have experience of, in fact I was running workshops well over 10 years ago, and I have done a lot of it in between). She thought of me immediately when she needed cover. Thank you for that and thank you for having the conversation with me in the first place!
As I read this I realise that I do need to be more brave in breaking down people’s initial opinions of me. I am angry that this kind of superficial judgement has played such a huge part in my life (I may go into more details about this in future blogs but I don’t want to rant too much), but, because of it, I think (hope) that it has made me a less judgemental person.
RESPECT everyone when you first meet. Don’t judge based on what someone looks like, I know this is easier said than done, but if you consider every interaction that you have with someone as a gift, then people might surprise you. You can’t be everyone’s best friend, you can’t like everyone, you can’t enjoy everyone’s company, and not everyone will like you, but you can think to yourself how can I make this person feel comfortable to be themselves, that is when you find the sparkle.