#Screenwriting: Why I Write 40+ and 50+ Female Lead Characters

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First off, this isn’t me trying to be a “hero” or a “white knight” in some kind of way. I’m not looking for brownie points here, even though I wouldn’t exactly turn them down if I got them.

There is this belief in Hollywood that there aren’t a ton of roles, especially leads, for women once they reach 50 or are close enough to it. Sure, there are still some out there, but they’re harder to come by. As I am someone obviously on the outside looking in, this is hearsay at best as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t say I’ve seen a ton of evidence to the contrary of this.

Connie Britton is one of my favorite actresses who I absolutely dream of meeting one day. As a screenwriter, it would be such an honor to work with her, as farfetched as that seems right now and as unlikely as that is to happen. Connie was most recently on my favorite show, CMT’s Nashville. To the dismay of most of us fans, her character “Rayna Jaymes” died of her injuries following a car accident.

“Rayna” was a main character of the show and while Nashville was just picked up for a sixth season, she will be dearly missed. She was there from the beginning and a big reason I began watching. I absolutely adored her, as I’m sure many of the fans expressed that they did as well.

It was determined that “Rayna” would be killed because Connie decided it was time to depart from the show, which as a huge fan of hers, I greatly respected. She had been on network television for something like 10 years straight and knowing what I do now, especially as a screenwriter, that could take a toll on anyone. We’re her fans, yes, but she owes it to herself to do what’s best for her fan and her family first and foremost. She felt that now was the time.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as understanding. This and that was said to and about her, but one nature of comment that stood out to me was those who stated, to the effect, “This was a stupid decision. You’ll be 50 soon. Good luck finding something else.” 

Connie did, in fact, turn 50 in March shortly after her character’s death. Now I may be a bit biased (and I mean absolutely no disrespect to the other actors and actresses of Nashville), but Connie did an amazing job as a lead character. I have no problem saying she largely carried the show. Can I see her “carrying” another? Absolutely.

However, her turning 50 means this may be unlikely.

Why is that?

When it comes to Connie and even other actresses once they reach this age whom I greatly admire and respect, this attitude from fans that these ladies are “washed up” or “irrelevant” is thrown out there, however untrue it is. It seems to be the “go-to” for a lot of people.

Well, Hollywood and rude ass fans…EXCUSE THE HELL OUT OF THEM FOR NOT DYING.

This is a big reason I always think of women 40 and 50+ as lead characters for my screenplays. One may think that this attitude from these fans and from Hollywood in general makes this a lousy idea on my part. I’ve been told that women at this age are “not as marketable” or that they aren’t “in demand” as younger women are.

Yes…says everyone else. But I write from the heart. And that’s where women like these are. Doesn’t mean I won’t write any other age groups, so as long as that is clear.

I know so many women who are 40 and 50+ who are absolutely AMAZING to say the least. They have so much to offer. They are by NO means “washed up” or “done” with life in any way. As I stated above, I can see Connie Britton carrying another show easily. I guess my thing is, despite the number of times I’ve mentioned it, I don’t see “50” when I look at Connie. Just like with other women, I don’t identify them strictly by their ages.

It just seems that there’s so few ideas out there that include women who reach these ages. Men, on the other hand, well they can be lead characters forever.

But not women.

Why is that?

There’s the expression, “Be The Change You Want To See In The World.” I’m obviously not a 40 or 50+ year old woman, but as I’m someone who can’t stand this attitude, I figure my way to “change” this thinking is to write scripts with female lead characters. In fact, the project I just finished the fifth draft of now features four women who are all 40+ years old.

Some have told me not to “force” this, because it may stunt my creativity by giving me too strict of requirements. Not at all. I don’t feel it to be a “stretch” or even tough to write female leads who are 40 and 50+ years of age. It is something I absolutely want to do.

Maybe it’s because I admire women like Connie Britton so much and just despise the thought that some people will absolutely not be able to get past her age, despite what she has left, which is PLENTY. I hate to think that someone, somewhere is going to simply “write her off” because of her age. But as I said in the beginning of this, this isn’t my way of trying to “save” anyone. None of these ladies need saving and even if they did, Lord knows I’m the last person in the position to do so. If they’re strictly relying on me, they’re in trouble. I’m doing this because again…it is something I want to do.

Am I concerned that some may read my script(s) featuring these women and not be able to get past their ages? I know it will happen. Concerned? Sure. Scared to write them? Absolutely not.

40+ and 50+ year-old women are FAR from “done.” And I plan to show that is as much of my writing as possible.

 

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2 Responses to #Screenwriting: Why I Write 40+ and 50+ Female Lead Characters

  1. Yes! That’s one of the things I love about American horror story! Jessica Lang and Kathy Bates absolutely carry that show because of their abilities – and their roles are not stereotypical “older woman” roles – they’re just woman roles and they happen to be the women in them – I love that, when it doesn’t matter to a role if the actress is old or young or thin or fat or black or white – when it’s about the character and not their physical characteristics. I’m sure you know this, but Connie Britton was actually in season one of AHS and did a fantastic job too!

    Liked by 1 person

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