How to Succeed as a Hollywood Actress: The Basics

Hollywood is known for making or breaking dreams. Here are three simple steps you can take as an actress to raise your chances of success. This article presumes you have taken as a given the objectification you will face and the fact you’ll only be offered supporting roles as one dimensional characters.

Step 1: Be young.

This is absolutely fundamental. Look around Hollywood, true, you’ll see a few older faces among the women (and a few that remain young through the magic of science), but they all established their places in Hollywood early on. If you’re new to the film game, then you need youth. As Meryl says: “Once women pass childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque.” What Hollywood needs, and more importantly wants is young women to play opposite their older, better paid leading men. And ‘young’ and ‘old’ are defined very differently for women in Hollywood. At 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal was too ‘old’ to play opposite a 55-year-old (men of course, are relevant well into their 60s). At 28, Olivia Wilde was too ‘old’ to play 37-year-old Leo’s wife in Wolf of Wall Street, (with the role being given to appropriately 22-years-young Margot Robbie). Elizabeth Banks recently got so fed up with all this she denounced acting for directing, but as we all know, the steps for becoming a female director are much simpler: Be Kathryn Bigelow or be born into the Coppola family. So just save yourself the time, and make sure you are young!

Step 2: Be skinny.

Women are only objectifiable in Hollywood if they conform to a certain beauty standard, so make sure you fit it. Sometimes male actors have to lose weight too, but the important distinction is men lose weight for roles and for a reason. So a man loses weight to play a particular role, and women lose weight just to play women. As Tina Fey said at the Golden Globes: “McConaughey did amazing work this year. For his role in Dallas Buyers Club, he lost 45 pounds. Or what actresses call being in a movie.” And heed these words ladies, Tina Fey credits her career to being told to ‘drop 30 pounds’ which she did and now we know who she is. Margot Robbie was also told to drop 20 pounds by industry executives, Jennifer Lawrence was told to diet countless times, and now famously turns down roles if they require her to lose weight needlessly. And these are beautiful, slender ladies! Jennifer Lawrence has even controversially been lauded for her figure being ‘fuller’ despite the fact she’s still a UK8/10 or a US4/6, and any world that counts that as a fuller figure, clearly values the skinny.

Step 3: Be white.

This is the final and most important step. Women of colour are not prominent in Hollywood, and if they are, a great deal is made over them being ethnic minorities. There are several reasons for their lack of visibility. Firstly, only very few roles are written for people of colour, particularly women of colour (unless you want to play a maid). And even when they are written into scripts, no women of colour actually get cast. Think of Emma Stone’s turn in Aloha as Allison Ng, a half Hawaiian woman. Now Emma Stone is, I think we can all agree, as white as they come. But Cameron Crowe cast her as a person of colour anyway! Now, sometimes in a bid to include more actors of colour, roles that are written without an ethnicity in mind are given to a minority. Like Quvenzhané Wallis in Annie or Amandla Stenberg as Rue in The Hunger Games, but when stuff like this happens there’s always the wildest backlash to these casting choices, despite both these films performing exceptionally well at the box office. It is therefore advisable to skip all that hoo-ha and just be white, or at the very least white passing.

If you follow these simple steps, you will have increased your employability ten-fold, I mean, you only need to look at the majority of newly working actresses in Hollywood to find that this is the case. Of course, if you are really keen to succeed, the most blatant course of action is to follow steps 1-3 with one very minor change. That change is, obviously, be a man.

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