I have a question for “Your Turn” column. I did an archive search on the issue and found various articles on the importance of IMDb. Here is my problem (and the problem of others I’ve discovered): My age is posted on IMDb. They refuse to delete it despite repeated requests. I’m worried that the posting of an age on IMDb will pose problems for actors in terms of casting (if/when CDs decide to use it). Is this an unnecessary fear for an unknown actor or is it a legitimate problem? Do you know of any steps that could be taken?
Warmest regards and many thanks for all your honest, direct advice and the sense of humor with which you approach all that you do.
Hey, thanks for having me over at Industry RSVP. It was a blast and I really enjoyed getting to meet such wonderful actors in such a cool atmosphere. Once Hollywood Happy Hour comes off hiatus, that’s the type of vibe I hope we can rekindle. Enjoy the book, and if you want to repay me, write a review for it over at Amazon.com. That would rock!
Looking at the IMDb issue, I’ve found the following “official word” from the editors of IMDb data: “We do not accept dates of birth that do not include a year. Also, we do not remove dates of birth.” So, once it’s up there, it looks like you’re stuck with it. (Oh, and I know for a fact that they used to accept birthdates without a birth year because — several years ago — I put up a friend’s birth month and day without the year as a means of protecting her from having her age splattered all over the Internet. Looks like they’ve figured that trick out and no longer allow it. Luckily, my friend’s entry is still there, with question marks for the year — allowing her to play late-20s well into her mid-30s.)
Okay, so since we now know that IMDb simply will not remove the information once it’s up there, let’s talk about how much that information really matters.
I’m going to say: NOT MUCH. Sure, I’ve heard the rumors about actors who are certain they didn’t get cast because someone saw their “real age” on IMDb. I just don’t buy it. Absolutely, that’s a great excuse that someone might give, when put in a position to defend a casting decision (just like “you’re too tall” is an excuse that actors can’t negotiate out of), but I just don’t believe that anyone in casting is going to NOT cast the PERFECT actor for a role just because of his or her actual age. No one really CARES how old you are (only how old you can play). No one cares what your ethnicity really is (only what you can play). No one cares whether you’re straight or gay (only what you can play). And you simply have to trust that most people in a position to cast you are going to do so when you’re right for the role, everything else be damned!
As for those who are so easily influenced as to not even consider you for a certain role because it is far off from your actual age, I say go prove ’em wrong by working with those who don’t care about it. Get known for playing younger (or older) than you actually are and eventually even the folks who care about it (who are in the minority) will get over it because they want to cast you like everyone else has.
Most folks in the industry who use IMDb-Pro do so to check credits, projects in development, and agency information. Beyond that, there’s very little on the site about any particular actor that’s going to be of major interest to those in a position to cast you. I absolutely would be up in arms if a SUBMISSION service (like Actors Access or LA Casting) required that your age be listed, as those services exist specifically to give you access to employment opportunities (and listing your age in such a place is not only inappropriate, it’s illegal). But since IMDb is more of a research tool than a casting site (and especially since IMDb has already made it clear that they won’t be removing birthdates once they’re up on the site), I would not worry too much about it. Perception of your age is far more important than the actual number, to most in this industry.
Heck, make IMDb work for you! Add a biography to your IMDb page. Since the first couple of lines are visible right under your date and place of birth, use that space to lead off with, “Consistently cast as a teenager despite being 27, she is most well-known for her appearance in over 200 national TV commercials.” (For example.) That way, anyone who MIGHT be influenced by the birthdate is going to be further influenced (and likely impressed) by the fact that you’ve become known for playing younger and that you have a bunch of work that isn’t reflected in the IMDb credits. Have at it! And have fun!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000447.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.