Chinese Actress Zhou Xun Was Age-Shamed For Playing A Younger Role – Here’s How Women Should Handle Age Prejudice In The Workplace

43-year-old Chinese actress Zhou Xun is an award-winning actress and style icon, yet her age is one achievement she’s not allowed to claim.


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The actress recently starred in the hit Chinese palace drama “Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace” where she stars alongside Taiwanese actor Wallace Huo. As Zhou Xun and Wallace Huo also play the younger, teenage versions of their characters in the drama, the former was widely criticised for taking on the role of an adolescent in the period drama.

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Netizens felt that Zhou Xun’s voice was “too raspy” and “mature” for a teen. Some viewers also commented that she was not “youthful enough” to play the younger version of her character and even went as far to claim that most the budget of the has gone into post-production to make Zhou Xun look younger.

It is unfortunate that Zhou Xun’s performance in the drama was overshadowed by nasty comments about her age. Zhou Xun is certainly not the first female actress to be shamed for being “too old.”

A study conducted by the University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative found that in half of the films (of the 25 Best Picture-nominated films from 2014 to 2016) that did feature a significant or supporting older character, the film contained lines that emphasised or joked about age.

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Another study from that same university reflects the same worrying trend. Out of the 100 top films of 2015, five of these films portrayed female leads/co-leads 45 years of age or older. This is in stark contrast to the 26 movies in 2015 that featured leads or co-leads with males 45 years of age or older.

It’s important to recognise that this form of prejudice doesn’t just happen in show business or the entertainment industry.

While ageism (prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age) might seem like a far-off concept depending on just how old you are at the moment, the reality is, this form of discrimination is insidious and sneaks into our lives in a myriad of ways. 

This most certainly includes the workplace. There are many ways ageism can affect your job, especially if you are a female, some are more overt and others more deceptively subtle.