Thirty-two-year-old actress and former “Felicity” scribe Riley Weston admitted and apologized Thursday for creating and adopting a false identity as an 18-year-old wunderkind.
“I take full responsibility,” she told Daily Variety. “I’m completely sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Despite the apology, Weston remained defiant about her decision, stating that it is “accepted practice for actresses to lie about their age” and blaming Hollywood “age bias” for her feeling that it was necessary to lie.
‘No one believes I’m 32’
“I wanted to have a job,” said the youthful-looking writer and actress, who had been named this summer to Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 100 most creative people in entertainment. “I wanted to work as an actor, but if I’d go into a casting office to play a 15-year-old, and they’d say, “How old are you?’ and I said 30, they’d laugh. No one believes I’m 32.”
Weston’s true identity was revealed Thursday after Daily Variety obtained court documents showing that she changed her name in 1997 from Kimberlee Elizabeth Kramer and was born in 1966 rather than 1979 (Daily Variety, Oct. 15).
Weston now admits she lied to her agents, attorneys, colleagues, Disney, the press and to nearly everyone she came in contact with on a professional level. The only people who knew her true identity, she said, were her family and her manager/ex-husband Brad Sexton, who did not return calls seeking comment.
Part of the buzz
Once she adopted the fake age and identity to get acting jobs, Weston began to write, and she said it was impossible for her to “be one age in the acting world and another in the writing world, so I chose to maintain the ruse.” Then she became part of the publicity buzz surrounding “Felicity,” and the whole thing got out of hand.
She was able to hide her true identity for so long, she explained, because, “I don’t have a lot of friends.”
Weston’s rather innocent explanation of the events, however, masks the lengths to which the she went to perpetuate the deception. After changing her name, she created false identification to hide her true age, wore baggy clothing styles favored by teens and even brought her mother with her to meetings.
One source said she dropped tidbits about baby-sitting and about having a crush on teen actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Weston not only lied about her age, she (through her reps) promoted and sold herself accordingly. Stories about the supposedly teen phenom were pitched to numerous media outlets, and Daily Variety on Oct. 6 published a story about Weston’s six-figure overall deal with Disney, which contained false details of Weston’s history provided by her agents at UTA and confirmed by Disney.
Weston’s explanation for bringing her mother to meetings is that her mother is her “best friend,” and she wears baggy clothes because “I’m very insecure about my body.” Weston’s newly obtained public relations reps rationalize the fact that she falsified identification by saying that most college students have fake IDs, too.
While Weston wrote in court papers that she changed her name for “entertainment business” purposes, Weston now says she changed her name, in part, for “security reasons” because a stranger has been stalking and harassing her since 1993.
Hollywood ‘age problem’
Despite her deception, she claims that her writing is original and is entirely her own. She said she hopes she can continue to write and act for Disney, and she lashed out at those who celebrated her work because of her age.
“If they based (the deal) on my age, there’s an age problem in Hollywood,” she said. “They bought into this, and there’s something hugely wrong with it. Look at what I had to do. Someone has to put a stop to it. If I were getting a job in any other industry, do you think anyone would care how old I am or how I look?”
Disney had no comment, and whether or not the studio attempts to drop Weston, the publicity surrounding her scandal may actually help her career. Sources said 15 media outlets, including two network news organizations and several national newspapers are now planning stories on Weston’s scam.
Imagine TV said late Thursday the revelation about Weston came as “a complete surprise to all of us. We trusted her as a colleague and are saddened by her dishonesty. Whatever explanations there are for her behavior ultimately rest with Riley herself.”
Weston herself remains unbowed: “I’m strong. I’m quirky. I’m weird, and I’m proud of it,” she said.