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Janelle James is on top of the world playing the ridiculously hilarious Principal Ava Coleman on Abbott Elementary, but she’s not playing by all of the Hollywood rules. She’s keeping a few secrets close to the vest and the most important item she’s keeping classified is her age.
Ageism in Hollywood, especially when it comes to women, is an issue that’s just starting to be a hot topic of conversation. It used to be that once actresses hit the age of 40, their careers were essentially over. While that narrative is slowly changing, James decided to not reveal her age because she believes it gives others (likely casting directors and studio executives) a preconceived notion of who she is as a performer. “I’m grown. I have a 20-year-old son. I’m not ashamed of my age or anything like that. But for women — and everybody knows it and acts like they don’t — it gives an idea of what you are in people’s heads,” she explained to Variety.
Even as a mom of two kids, the last thing she wanted to be known for was a “mom comic” because it would too narrowly define her skills. “That’s not my jam,” she continued. “People have this idea of motherhood, the same way they have an idea of women as we reach a certain age. Each age group, people have an idea in your head of what it is. I don’t want that to prevent me from doing anything because I can do everything.” Mic drop — James is tackling ageism head-on in quite a refreshing way.
James isn’t the only one to address the subject, fans have heard from countless stars including Halle Berry, Brooke Shields, and Sarah Jessica Parker, but everyone is well aware of what decade they are. The ABC star is keeping an air of mystery around her and letting everyone know that her talent, not her age, is what is going to define her in the entertainment industry.
Before you go, click here to see all the celebrity women who have spoken out about ageism.
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