Here’s a weird one, which actually began last year but now has a few updates.
Junie Hoang, a 40 yr old Texan actress is suing movie information megasite, Internet Movie Database (IMDB), in a landmark case that could have huge ramifications in Hollywood. The court case came about when Ms Hoang discovered that her profile on the IMDBPro subscription service – which is regularly used by casting agents to find actors/actresses suitable for particular roles – had been updated to included her age, something which she had never provided.
Ms Hoang asserts that due to her youthful appearance, she would regularly be asked to audition for characters that are in their 30’s or 20’s. However, since her age has been made public, these casting calls have nearly dried up.
An excerpt from Hoang’s complaint reads:
“If one is perceived to be ‘over the hill’, ie approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an ‘upside.'”
Two of the biggest acting unions, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Aftra), have also come out strongly in support of Ms Hoang, issuing a joint statement:
“[IMDB has a] moral and legal obligation not to facilitate age discrimination in employment. 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.”
Hoang had initially wanted to sue IMDB anonymously, but a recent court ruling by an US district judge in Seattle, has forced her name to be made public, an act that is certainly not going to help her cause.
Ms Hoang is seeking $1 million in punitive damages and $75 000 in compensatory charges, which admittedly is not a vast amount. However, if successful, the ruling may influence future Hollywood casting practices.
Last Updated: January 10, 2012