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What's Available to Older Women in Hollywood?

Rory Marinich

If a movie passes the Bechdel test, it features at least two women talking to each other about a subject besides a man. There are more of those films than there used to be, but they’re still not a given in Hollywood.

However there are signs of a significant shift of sorts to more older women playing key roles. It’s a trend that our film contributor Dave Luhrssen has taken note of.

"The audience of movie goers age 60 and over account for 13% of all tickets sold in North America," explains Luhrssen. "It is been proven now, demonstrated that these people will come to movies that speak to them in some way."

From 2007-2014, women made up only 30% of all speaking roles in top 100 grossing Hollywood films. Luhrssen contributes the comparative ease of men's aging transitional roles to mirroring where our society is today. But with multiples outlets outside of the theaters such as Netflix, older female actors are slowly increasing their presence on the screen.

While there is no where near equality in representation or pay grade for older women in the film industry, Luhrssen discusses his recent observations on the changing tide:

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, co-founder of the Milwaukee International Film Festival and co-author of A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. He is the winner of the Pace Setter Award for contributions to Milwaukee's film community from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society. David Luhrssen has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Milwaukee Area Technical College.