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Arts and Entertainment

Actress Sues IMDb for Destroying Her Career By Posting Her Birth Date

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An anonymous actress pushing 40 is suing IMDb for destroying her career playing much younger characters.

This suit sheds light on a growing issue in Hollywood. While actors' unions are not joining the litigation, they have been pushing IMDb to take those delicate stats down. Even in the age of the internet, they would like the public — and casting directors — to hunt a little bit more if they're really curious about an actor's age.

Through the years, unions have noticed a spike in complaints about age discrimination ever since IMDb became a major presence. The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists released a statement about this issue just last month, according to The Los Angeles Daily News:

An actor's actual age is irrelevant to casting. What matters is the age range that an actor can portray. For the entire history of professional acting, this has been true but that reality has been upended by the development of IMDb as an industry standard used in casting offices across America.
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Casting directors admit that IMDb is having an effect on the careers of both big-name celebrities and character actors in bit parts. "I have found, when I'm trying to sell an actor who very legitimately plays 30 for a 30-year-old role and I'm on the phone with a casting director, they will say, in some instances, 'I just looked them up, they're 35, they're too old and I'm not going to bring them in,"' veteran talent agent Marilyn Szatmary told The Los Angeles Daily News. "So the IMDb stopped them from seeing somebody that maybe they would have seen on the basis of my saying that this person plays 30."

But IMDb hasn't budged on the issue despite complaints and freedom of information advocates who say that getting IMDb to remove birthdates is a pipe dream.

"Just like I don't have any sympathy for government workers who think that their salaries shouldn't be on somebody's database, I don't have a lot of sympathy for an actor who thinks that their age and their biography is nobody's business," said Ken Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. "I mean, the industry ought to figure out a way solve this so that everybody's happy. But it would take Solomon to do that."