Brooke Shields: Hollywood Discriminating Against Her?

Brooke Shields has said she's dealt with ageism throughout her entire career. The supermodel and actress is still working and it on Instagram.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

brooke shields

Superstar model and actress Brooke Shields began early and other than taking time off to attend Princeton University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages, Shields has been a constant force on the small screen, some features, while also continuing her career as a model. It’s been a life in the business for the actress who has faced struggles along the way.


Throughout her career, actress, and model Brooke Shields has been faced with controversy for the roles she played early in her career and the photographs taken of her at an even younger age.

While controversy has followed her throughout her career (a bit more on that in a moment), the 57-year-old recently went on the Verywell Mind podcast to talk to Amy Morin, the podcast’s host and licensed therapist about a different type of controversy that she is now dealing with – ageism.

On Morin’s podcast, Shields breaks down the issues she’s faced with ageism throughout her long career, how to deal with it, and also spoke about her website, Beginning is Now, whose goal is to combat ageism and show women that their lives don’t end at 40, but instead, they are just beginning.

“I’ve been fighting ageism in Hollywood probably since I was about seven,” Shields explained to Morin via Fox News. “It starts then in Hollywood, but it really… sexiness doesn’t have to just be a young person’s reality, the commodity of being sexy and being vibrant and not being burdened by so many of the things that burden you, whether it’s your biological clock, or the way things are laid out for you, because that’s what traditionally has done.”

Shields then touched on her age and how she feels she is being overlooked because of it. “And that’s the idea,” Shields continued explaining to Morin.

“And the idea is, oh, that’s the only time you’re really ever alive and vibrant. And I think that we’ve gotten used to it. And I obviously didn’t think to question it when I was in my 20s. It wasn’t until I got past 50 that I thought, ‘Wait a minute, there’s nobody out there talking to me. They’re overlooking me.’”

Hollywood can be cruel and fickle and while Shields didn’t experience that as a young actor, she is seeing it now. It hasn’t stopped her from speaking out about it nor has it stopped her from finding work. The past couple of years have seen Shields in front of the camera and lending her voice for animated roles.

She has been in front of the camera for films like Glamorous, My Boyfriend’s Meds, and A Castle for Christmas. Her voice can also be heard in the animated series Mr. Pickles, Momma Named Me Sheriff as well as lending her vocal talents to the podcast Batman: The Audio Adventures. Up next for Shields is the film Out of Order!


When we say Brooke Shields began early, we mean 11-months old early. This goes all the way back to 1966 when Shields was in a photo shoot for Ivory Soap. Since that time, she was constantly in front of the camera as a child model, a very successful one at that.

Shields turned her modeling into an acting career, first appearing in After the Fall, a TV movie. She then saw time on Alice, Sweet Alice and then another TV movie called The Prince of Central Park. Then came the controversy.


Pretty Baby is the movie that really started it all for Shields, in so many ways. She was 12 years old when she grabbed the role as a child prostitute in the movie. She was also 12 years old when she was filmed nude for that movie.

Immediately “child porn” was called into play. How could a director allow such a thing? How can a mother, Teri Shields in this case, who also happened to be Brooke’s manager, allow it? Well, they did and according to Brooke Shields, 40-years-later she can look back with no regrets. She told Vanity Fair in 2018, “It was the best creative project I’ve ever been associated with, the best group of people I’ve ever been blessed enough to work with.”

This wouldn’t be the only controversy Brooke Shields would have to deal with as a minor. She was also under fire stemming from nude images taken of her in 1975 by photographer Garry Gross and Playboy Press, which her mother allowed and signed away consent to.

Brooke Shields was 10 years old at the time. The lawsuit in question lasted two years and ended in Gross’ favor.


Controversy continued to follow Brooke Shields and perhaps it was more of her mother’s making. Brooke starred in another controversial movie, The Blue Lagoon, another movie that featured nudity and one where Brooke Shields claims she used a body double for some of the nudity.

Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon

The movie was about two teenagers, Shields and co-star Christopher Atkins, who find themselves alone on a deserted island where they are trying to survive, also learning about their sexual awakening at the same time. Brooke Shields had to later testify in front of a U.S. Congressional inquiry stating that body doubles, in fact, were used in the movie.


Like it always does. Brooke Shields continued to work. Her modeling career continued, her movie and TV work continued. She moved on to movies like Sahara, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Brenda Starr, and Speed Zone and that was just closing out the ‘80s.

Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields in Brenda Starr

The decade of the ‘90s was busy for Brooke Shields as her work began to cross over to more TV work. She continued to be seen on commercials, she also continued to model.

Her TV work included stints on Quantum Leap, Tales from the Crypt, and The Larry Sanders Show as well as TV movies like An American Love and Nothing Lasts Forever. Her earlier controversy did nothing to hurt her reputation.


It is no secret that Brooke Shields maintained a special relationship with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. In fact, Jackson asked Shields to marry him on more than one occasion.

Her response, as she told Rolling Stone (RS), “I would say, ‘You have me for the rest of your life, you don’t need to marry me, I’m going to go on and do my own life and have my own marriage and my own kids, and you’ll always have me.’ I think it made him relax. He didn’t want to lose things that meant something to him.”

Brooke Shields

As the pair grew older, she began to look at Jackson differently. Again, she told RS, “You saw women who were more sexual, who wanted to throw themselves at him and feel like they were going to teach him,” she recalls, “we just found each other, and we didn’t have to deal with our sexuality.”

She also explained to RS, “As I grew up and started having boyfriends, I would share with him, and he was like a little kid who talked about the bases — what first base was, what second base was, and it sounded very odd to the outside, I can imagine, but to the inside, to someone who’s never really left his bubble, you can understand how he would be curious.”


Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields has never stopped working. She pops up from time to time on TV commercials still and her acting career continues to blossom. She was the lead in Suddenly Susan, a series that ran for four seasons.

The early 2000s saw her on TV shows like Just Shoot Me, That ‘70s Show, Entourage, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Two and a Half Men. She was also in Lipstick Jungle and recurring on Hannah Montana.

Brooke Shields

As the 2000s rolled into the teens, Brooke Shields kept rolling with it. Scream Queens, Nightcap, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Middle, and Jane the Virgin became part of her resume. Shields has also done her fair share of voice work. She has lent her vocal cords to shows such as Gary the Rat, Wonder Pets!, Mr. Pickles, and Creative Galaxy.

Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields on Scream Queens

Brooke Shields has also done her fair share of theater work. She has appeared in a few Broadway musicals, one being in Grease when she played Rizzo. She also played Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Shields performed in Wonderful Town, Chicago, and finally as Morticia Adams in the musical version of The Addams Family. She definitely has talent.


Now 55 years old, Brooke Shields has put all the controversy behind her. She has two daughters with Chris Henchy, who she married in 1999. Here she is with one of her daughters…

While the relationship with her mother hit a straining point (her mother passed in 2012), she has no regrets about her early career and what it gave her.

Shields continues to pull in acting gigs and there are no signs of her stopping. If you want to learn more about the model and actress, she also published her memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, which goes into the many aspects of her rough relationship with her mother.


Anyone who has followed the career of Brooke Shields should be aware of the controversy that was created when she starred in the 1978 film Pretty Baby where, as a 12-year-old, she who shown in the nude as a young prostitute.

But it was her appearance two years earlier in the Playboy-owned publication Sugar and Spice that caused a lot of consternation. Sugar and Spice was meant to be more artistic than Playboy, though how nude photos of a 10-year-old Brooke Shields equates to art is a question never answered.

The issue included Shields standing fully nude in a bathtub without the benefit of hiding behind anything. It also included a few other pages that featured pictures of what Sugar and Spice called “nymphets,” that the magazine defined as “attractively and sexually mature young girls.”

This was back in 1976 and would absolutely not fly today. Looking back, Shields has never expressed any regret about doing the photo shoot or the controversial movies that followed, though her relationship with her mother was strained, at best, for a long time.