Whether it's because of Hollywood's own biases or simply a reflection of American tastes, the "system" really isn't kind to women.
I was a film major in college, and my hope is that one day I might be able to sell some scripts down the road. A few of my ideas and stories feature women as the main characters, and some feature non-ethnic leading characters, that if I could have the influence to cast, would try to cast non-whites in the role.
Female actresses tend to peak between ages 25 and 35 or in terms of their stardom and star power. And after that, many fade into oblivion. It's why there is so much pressure on them to augment their bodies in order to appear younger. Nicole Kidman is a perfect example, as she may be ODing on the botox. And only a handful of actresses have the "star power" to sustain their levels as A-list actresses into the 40s.
Most of the roles for actresses in the 35-45 range seem to be Lifetime movies where they play somebody's mom
And then at a certain point, you hit 45 or 50 and they start casting you as some 30-year old actor's mother. For example, Sally Field was only 46 when she started filming Forrest Gump, playing the mother of a then 36-year old Tom Hanks.
I guess someone figured out that maybe Rachel McAdams was a bit too young to be cast in Iron Man. But Gwyneth Paltrow is only 37 (6 years older than McAdams), but she already seems fairly old. I'm sure I'm not the only one that seemed to think they probably could have gotten someone much younger than Paltrow to be in that movie.
But for men, 37 is very young. Will Smith is 40, Tom Cruise over 45, Harrison Ford over 65. Ben Affleck, the Rock, Jason Statham, Chris Tucker, Josh Duhamel, and Jude Law, were all born in 1972, the same year as Paltrow, but nobody considers them old now. In contrast, Carmen Electra, Cameron Diaz, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, Alyssa Milano, probably can't pull off the single, hot eye candy of movies any more. All are still very attractive, but they'll be stuck playing the hot mom instead. All 1972 births, by the way. I'm sure most of us could see a movie where the Rock, Statham, or Jude Law bag someone young and hot like Scarlett Johansson (24), Jessica Alba (28), or Beyonce (27).
But it's not just women that get screwed over by the "system", non-whites as well. Will Smith is the only black actor currently that has "crossed over" where he really has no race, so to speak. You look at his last few movies, and his "blackness" isn't broached in the films: Hancock, I am Legend, Pursuit of Happyness, Hitch, I, Robot. Very few black actors have ever achieved that in history. Denzel Washington, a few years back when Manchurian Candidate, Inside Man, etc. came out, but probably not so much anymore. Morgan Freeman, maybe. Sidney Poitier, maybe. Can't really think of any others.
While someone like Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, etc. can get leading roles, but usually the character they are portraying is supposed to be black.
And it works even worse for black actresses. Halle Berry I guess you could say crossed over when she did Catwoman, but since that was such a terrible movie and Berry is only a so-so actress, her reign at the top was very short-lived. If there is any other "prospect" that may do so in the near future, I suspect it will be Kerry Washington. But the window is closing rapidly (she's already 32).
For a black actress, the best you can hope for is portraying Will Smith or Don Cheadle's wife in a movie. It's pretty crazy to think that Alien vs. Predator is a landmark film for black actresses (Sanaa Lathan is the "star").
And good luck trying to find any American-born Hispanic actors/actresses that have ascended up the list. Cameron Diaz is about it, and she's half third-generation Cuban. Joaquin Phoenix, is only Puerto Rican by birth, not ethnicity. Benicio del Toro, Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, all imports. And Del Toro playing the Wolfman is really the only example of any of them "crossing over."
And it's even bleaker for Asian actors.
I'm not trying to portray Hollywood as overtly racist. It's really just a business decision. When 70% of your customers are white, then it's safe to assume 70% of your products will be marketed towards that demographic. And not to say the American public only wants to see movies about people of their own race. But I guess Hollywood presumes that people are little quicker and more easily identify with characters of their own race. That's not to say that a black person or white person can't enjoy a movie that has John Cho or Lucy Liu as its star. But Hollywood is a very conservative business, and they aren't willing to roll the dice, and it makes perfect sense.
You can pay Lucy Liu $5 million to be the star of a movie, and if the movie makes a profit you can pocket a few more million $$$ as a studio head. But you aren't entirely sure the movie will make that money, because you're not sure if you can really market Lucy Liu all that well. Or you can pay Nicole Kidman $15 million, and be much more confident that the movie will make money. That $10 million extra you're spending basically becomes insurance for making sure you don't produce a flop.
Long story short, thescout, Hollywood is all screwed up. So don't get too down on people like Megan Fox if they don't make it. It isn't really designed for women like her to make it. Hot women in movies are like the equivalent of RBs, a very short shelf life. They are basically a dime a dozen. How many HOF RBs are currently in the league? LT. Dunn, Fred Taylor, Jamal Lewis are probably not going to get in. Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Westbrook, are pretty border line. Maybe Adrian Peterson, but nobody else really stands out. For the most part, most of the starting RBs in the league right now that are hot names like Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, 3-5 years from now many of them will be no more highly thought of than guys like LaMont Jordan, Julius Jones, or Rudi Johnson are now.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.