The XX Factor

Actresses Over 40 Are Ascendant

Just seven years ago, the New York Observer ran a story with the title, ” Actress Roles Over 40? ‘It’s a Big Fat Zero .” My, how times have changed: Today the Hollywood Reporter has a piece about how actresses over 40 are dominating the September covers of the major fashion magazines. Writer Doree Shafrir ( with whom I co-wrote a book ) notes that the most of the summer blockbusters this year did not star neophytes: Fortysomethings Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Tina Fey, and thirtysomethings Angelina Jolie and Cameron Diaz were all over the multiplex.

One of the magazine consultants Shafrir interviewed for the piece reasons that Elle , Vogue , and co. are choosing older women for their covers because we’re in a “post-recession era” during which “consumers are drawn to the authentic, down-to-earth and relatable.” You can certainly use the recession to explain any new trend, but I believe there is evidence that the shift is more permanent and less economy-based. For the past few years, there have been incredibly strong, high-profile roles for non-ingénues popping up on television-from Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie to Glenn Close in Damages on the dramatic side, and on the comedic end of things, Tina Fey on 30 Rock and Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before people realized that these sorts of heroines could attract a devoted audience-and started putting them on the big screen, too.