The new, critically acclaimed TV Land dramedy Younger is all about the realities of aging and the possibilities of reinvention. The show revolves around Sutton Foster’s character, a 40-year-old who is struggling to pass for a 26-year-old; she’s helped by a real twentysomething played by Hilary Duff. “I’m tired all the time,” Foster’s character declares early in the series.
But at the Innovation Festival stage on Tuesday, where the show’s creator, Darren Star, chatted with the show’s actresses Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar and its costume designer Patricia Field, it was Duff–the youngest panelist–who talked about being weary and worn out.
When the topic turned to social media and the idea of a celebrity as a brand, Duff expressed “exhaustion” at having to maintain a social media presence while simultaneously being an actress, musician, and mother. The panel initially reveled in the idea that nearly everyone on the stage had multiple, cross-platform creative outlets. They praised multi-hyphenates, “slashies,” and others who don’t want to be locked into one set groove for their entire career. But Duff’s take was oddly mournful.
She admitted she’d eventually “have to choose” between being an actress or a musician, because of the intense pressure of having to out-brand the current crop of music stars. “It’s a different game now, music. You have to give it all of your time, or none of it,” said Duff. “There’s a very small group that gets played on the radio, and it’s hard to break through that.”
She admitted to having moments where she felt like she was taking on too much. “I understand the importance of [social media],” she said. “You have to be a brand to stay relevant. But you have to ask yourself, How much do you want to share? How much time do you devote to it? How many selfies can you post? It’s exhausting.” Eventually, Duff claimed, she came to the realization, “You can have a lot, but you can’t have it all.”
To which Field had the perfect age-defying response: “Well, the upside is, at least you’re not bored!”
Indeed, the flippant, relaxed, and somewhat restless presence onstage—the perfect embodiment of the show they were there to discuss—was Mazar, 51, and Field.
When asked about the hurdles that face aging actresses, Mazar deflected the question with her usual wry humor, but it was mixed with a refreshing sense of not really caring about her age. “Once IMDB happened, we were all screwed,” she joked, before she explained how she wants to age, and is excited to see her age play out on screen: “I want to play those roles,” she said. “If somebody writes them, goddamnit!”
In general, she felt that age insecurity was, at this moment, almost irrelevant. “There are bigger fights to fight, not just over numbers,” said Mazar, in reference to LGBTQ struggles and the issues of gender identification.
Duff relayed an anecdote about doing fittings with fashion icon and costume designer Field, joking that the septuagenarian was easily bored and would throw away the hot new thing in favor of something unexpected. The crimson-haired Field, seated to Duff’s right, expressed her simple and nonchalant mantra: “I see something, I like it. I think, ‘This is good.’”