Truth and Beauty in Hollywood – Can an Actress Keep Her Real Age Private?

It’s not easy being a movie actress over the age of 40, says an actress. Huong Hoang (known also as Junie Hoang) signed up for an iMDb Pro account and didn’t want to disclose her real age. It is said that beauty creates its own rules of conduct; perhaps in Hollywood so does age.

It’s true that just about everyone in the movie and TV industries uses iMDb as a resource. IMDb found out her correct age, and it included that information in her publicly available website data.

Ms. Hoang sued iMDb in federal court in Washington state because, among other reasons, she believed that industry awareness of her real age caused her to get fewer offers for acting roles.

The case has gotten complex, with issues regarding further information about the actress that has come out in the court proceedings such as the actresses’ tax returns and her allegedly secret methods for obtaining acting roles. A further complication is that her first lawyer died and her new attorneys want to change tactics. The plaintiff claims support of many other actors. The case is still in progress.

Overall, apart from the facts specific to this case, this kind of lawsuit poses the question of whether anyone in show business can keep anything private. Much of the mystery is gone, for better or worse. With gossip sites, phone hacking in the UK, long-range lenses and data everywhere, privacy is a challenging thing to maintain for anyone, especially a person in the acting trade. One of the inherent problems in suing for an invasion of privacy is that many people who didn’t know the alleged private facts now know them. That is surely the case here. Whether that’s a shrewd career move or not, only as years go by will we be able to tell.

In February 2015, our colleague and friend, partner Mark Fischer, passed away. We have made his blog posts available in honor of both his nuanced and wide-ranging knowledge of intellectual property, new media and entertainment law and of his entertaining style. Please read our tribute to Mark in the firm’s Alumni Spotlight publication and his obituary in the Boston Globe.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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