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Janet Suzman: ‘Casting directors still look for totty’

Julia Crampsie, Nickolas Grace and Janet Suzman. Photo: Kit Shah Julia Crampsie, Nickolas Grace and Janet Suzman. Photo: Kit Shah
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Janet Suzman has claimed that women struggle to get acting roles because casting directors “look for totty”.

Speaking to The Stage at the Alan Bates Award presentation, the actor said the focus on finding attractive female stars was “a sad state of affairs”.

When asked whether women find it difficult to gain recognition as actors, Suzman responded: “Yes, because I think women have to rely on looks more than men do. It’s a world which is not kind to women, still.

“If a gorgeous young thing leaves drama school, she’s sure to be found. If you’re just ordinary looking – and 99% of people are ordinary looking – you might have fabulous talent, but you’re not going to be found as quickly.”

Suzman went on to criticise casting directors for concentrating on looks rather than ability.

She said: “They look for totty. Sorry to be vulgar, but I think the talented girl – as in any field, without exception, in the modern world – has to be twice as good as a man. So it’s not in our favour, let’s put it that way.

“It’s quite sad that I’m saying that, isn’t it? As I listen to myself I think this is a sad state of affairs. I’m afraid girls are subject to this devil of having to look wonderful. I think their talent is less easy to see, because people just look at the looks, rather than the inner glow.”

Suzman was a judge in the final round of the Alan Bates Award alongside BBC casting director Julia Crampsie and actor Nickolas Grace. The award was presented to Guildhall School of Music and Drama student Luke Dale.

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