It’s funny how leading men are allowed to age well into their 60s or 70s with love interests remaining on the lower side of 40. But in contrast, older actresses are seen to have lost their sex appeal and there are fewer roles available to them. That’s clearly not the case. Many women become sexier as they age, becoming more confident, and more at ease in their own skins.
There’s no right way to age, but there are some actresses who seem to be ageing in a much healthier way today. They don’t want plastic surgery or to look young. They want to look their best at the age they are and to continue acting. We’re talking about women over 50 like Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Blythe Danner. We’ve selected three of our favorite inspirational women to represent the decades 50s, 60s, and 70s – Viola Davis, Isabella Rossellini and Helen Mirren.
Viola Davis Rocks Natural and Glamorous
“What has released me most from the fear of aging is self-awareness. I’ve never determined my value based on my looks or anything physical. I’ve been through a lot in life, and what has gotten me through is my strength of character and faith.” – Viola Davis, InStyle Magazine, December 2015
Due to her success as the leading actress in the ABC drama “How To Get Away With Murder“, she is in the spotlight. But it wasn’t always this way. She’s often described herself as having “lived in abject poverty and dysfunction during her childhood” because her parents wages were insufficient for a family of 8. It wasn’t until she was in her 30’s that she realized she wasn’t poor anymore.
Like many poor young girls, Viola saw another world through watching movies and became enamored with film. Fortunately, she was talented and won a scholarship where she earned a degree in theater and went on to Julliard. She had years of work in TV, film and stage, but always felt that she could not get a leading role. She was stereotyped, had an awkward walk and never felt pretty or sexy enough for a great role. She wanted to be seen as beautiful; I think we all feel that at some point or another.
However, her talent has led to a host of awards over the past few years including two Tony’s, four SAGAs, and two Oscar nominations for her roles in “Doubt” and “The Help“. Perhaps her biggest victory is being the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. This was accomplished having just celebrated her 50th birthday.
She won the Emmy for her role as the dynamic lawyer who is at once emotional, dramatic, vulnerable, sexy, and who commands constant attention. She believes her role as Professor Keating has helped her place less attention on her physical self and she has become more forgiving of her past. You can see why that would be the case as throughout the first season she laid herself bare both emotionally and physically.
She’s all too aware of the pressure women feel to maintain their youth, but she no longer worries about wrinkles and fine lines. In fact, she says, bring ’em on. Self-understanding has helped her get over her fear of aging.
Perhaps a stable home life also helps to bring that confidence. She seems deeply in love with her husband of 13 years and they recently renewed her wedding vows. She chose an embroidered silk design because “This dress shape fits my body type the best, it accentuates my waist, it’s dramatic, timeless, and romantic. I wanted something that made a statement when I walked in the room but also that didn’t look like I was trying too hard.” Her 5-year old daughter helps keep her grounded and when home with her family she does not feel like a star or celebrity. She so appreciates the family, the life she has, takes nothing for granted and never forgets her humble roots.
I don’t know about you, but Viola is the one I always want to catch a glimpse of on the red carpet. She always looks amazing in different colored gowns, hairstyles and flawless makeup. She recently showed up in her natural short curly black hair looking as radiant as ever. She’s developed a unique style over the years and rocks both the natural and glamorous looks.
What a way to step into your 6th decade. Her belief in herself and the belief of those that love her got her to where she is now. She gives 100% of herself to any role on film or in life. And if she continues as she started she will go on being an inspiration to us all.
Isabella Rossellini Forever Walking the Path Less Taken
“My mother once told me that growing older was the only way to have a long life. So my attitude is, of course we are aging. And it’s natural, and it’s beautiful.’” – Isabella Rossellini, American Harper’s Bazaar, April 2012
Perhaps one of the best known faces of the 80s and 90s even if you don’t immediately know her name you’ll surely recognize her. Not one to shy from controversy she’s been acting in arthouse and blockbuster projects since the mid 1970s. She also held a prestigious modelling contract as the face of the cosmetic company Lancôme during the 80s and 90s until they deemed her too old at 40 and promptly dismissed her.
She and her twin sister were born in 1952. They grew up amidst scandal and limelight. The daughters of the actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini. Isabella was brought up in two very distinct worlds, that of Catholicism at school in Italy and the glitzy world of Hollywood and the European film industry with her parents during holidays. She often says her world was art, emotion, mystery and popping flashbulbs.
Isabella says that from a very young age she was told that she could not compare with her mother or reach her perfection. Despite this she still decided upon a career in film, TV and modelling. She has 60 film credits to her name and 13 TV shows. Many of the projects that she’s undertaken have become cult classics – Blue Velvet, Madonna’s book Sex and The Saddest Music in the World. Today at age 64, she is still staring in films alongside the likes of Robert De Niro in ‘Joy‘.
Even though her major modelling contracts were cancelled over 20 years ago she has said that she still misses it because she loved working with photographers. She certainly seems to have an affinity with the camera it loves her as much as she loves it. She has always said she would love to be a model again, but would not try to look like someone 35, “When I see some people doing that, I feel that person is suffering, that person doesn’t feel good in her skin.” Her ad campaigns for Bulgari over the past 5 years would certainly confirm this approach.
Eight years ago Isabella left NYC, bought 30 acres of land on Long Island, which she turned into an organic farm. She’s formed a strong fascination with the natural world that’s led her to get a degree in animal behavior. This opened the path to her latest creative adventure where she’s still pushing the boundaries, the creation of ‘Green Porno‘, a series of short film episodes of the mating rituals and reproductive behavior of various animals. She says, “I always wanted to make films about animals – not an enormous audience but there is an enormous audience for sex.” She did a fascinating live interview with the Huffington Post in 2014 which is well worth a watch.
She is and has been a mother, wife, journalist, top model, on film and tv, a producer/writer, avid dog lover training puppies for the blind, writer of three books, and is currently involved in conservation efforts. She still exudes authenticity, strength, elegance, glamour, and sophistication, no matter what she does. In her own words, she has discovered a ‘joy for life’.
Helen Mirren The Rebel and Champion of Aging Gracefully
“A few crows feet are nothing when combined with the self-confidence that can only come with advancing years…As I’ve aged, I’ve lost that incredible insecurity of youth…As I get older, I don’t look as good, but I don’t give a damn… Growing old is not for pussies and it takes courage to embrace your advancing years.” – Helen Mirren, The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, September 2015
If there’s one actress in her 70s who comes to mind when you think of women who are aging gracefully and who are truly comfortable in their skins, then Helen Mirren is that woman. She is still performing in leading roles, winning accolades at age 70, and is often in the headlines across the globe and has been so for most of her life.
The Brit began her acting career at age 22 with the Royal Shakespeare Company and over her lifetime has 121 film and TV credits to her name. She’s won too many awards to count including 1 Oscar, 1 Tony, 4 Emmys, 3 Golden Globes, and 5 SAGAs.
Always intensely competitive, once she won the Oscar for her role in The Queen in 2006, she felt liberated. The inner voice ‘why did she get it and not me?’ disappeared. Now she feels she can do exactly what she wants. It was also an interesting role for her to take in the first place as she considers her upbringing to have been ‘very anti-monarchistic’.
Due to a few recent films, Helen has gotten in touch with her Russian roots and reflects that unknowingly it may always have had an impact on her. Despite her father’s attempts to assimilate to an English life and forget his past, Helen learned to speak Russian. She had her Russian diplomat grandfather’s letters from his sisters translated and visited her family graves and lost estates in Russia. The awareness of her past changed her sense of where she came from. She loves letting herself go into grand emotions and projects a British coolness with a sense of tragic possibility, an award worthy on-screen presence.
She considers herself to be a naturist and is happiest on a nude beach. Helen seems to always maintain her radiant natural beauty whether on the beach or not . She goes out without makeup and doesn’t mind the photos of her ‘natural face’. Because of her continuing ‘sex symbol’ status she’s often asked for her thoughts on beauty and growing older and she says, “The weird thing is, you get more comfortable in yourself, even as time is giving you less reason for it. When you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. I think one of the advantages of getting older is that you let go of certain things.”
Watching her interviews it’s a breath of fresh air to hear her emotional honesty and the strength of character that shines through. She believes, “you never really know a person and you have to control how other people see you.” Therefore, although frank and warm as an interviewee, she controls the conversation.
In 2003, Helen Mirren was listed as one of the 50 Best Dressed Over 50. She makes evening wear look easy with glamorous low cut elegant gowns, figure-hugging styles, versatile hairstyles, statement earrings, arms covered and repeats her look over and over. She is known as a lady who knows how to dress with class and style adding her own edge to clothes. She calls herself an ‘instinctive feminist’ and remains intrigued by how her filmed self rarely feels like her at all.
She has a feisty attitude and is a fantastic role model for women of all ages.
There are many female stars over 50 who are demonstrating the art of aging gracefully. In particular, what I like about the women I chose to spotlight is that they are independent, self-expressed, opinionated, sexy and natural. They have beauty, brains, and style and will leave an imprint for others to follow.
Of the three we featured, who is your favorite?