It was a blue carpet pep rally as Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier and Rhea Perlman debuted their new film “Poms” on Wednesday night in Downtown Los Angeles.
But much like their characters in the film, the actresses’ cheers weren’t for sports teams. Instead, they were celebrating a Hollywood system that is hopefully becoming more inclusive for older women.
Keaton and Weaver star in “Poms” as Martha and Sheryl, two senior citizens who decide to start a cheerleading club at their retirement community.
“I think in this day and age, people realize that you don’t have a ‘use by’ date,” Weaver told Variety. “Some of us can keep on going. Some of us still look to the future and make the most of the present.”
But as much as Hollywood has evolved, who could have ever predicted a movie featuring a “Bring It On”-style scene of a group of seniors trying out for the cheerleading squad?
“[It used to be that] women are erased and invisible after they get a certain age, but once we started saying, ‘We’re not invisible — we’re full of life, we take care of kids, we’re still viable to society.’ And once you own that, then you get offered to sit at the table,” Grier said.
It’s been 45 years since her career-making turn in “Foxy Brown” and the 69-year-old actress has noticed that the industry has been changing: “I think there is a shift, but it’s an evolution and a revolution.”
“Poms” follows last year’s “Book Club,” a rom-com that earned $68 million at the box office and also starred Keaton, who is 73. Perlman says the reason for the growing support for movies about mature women is simple.
“Because women go to the movies, people are starting to realize that women want to see themselves up there,” Perlman said, adding that watching Judi Dench travel to India in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” transformed her own views on box office possibilities for older actors.
“I am so happy that it’s finally starting to happen. I mean there’s still way more white men in movies and in businesses, but slowly people are starting to take notice of who else is around them and how important it is for them to be represented as well. And how great their stories are,” the 71-year-old actress explained. “So, I’m just thrilled with how things are moving.”
After assembling the cast, which also includes Celia Weston, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill and “13 Reasons Why” star Alisha Boe, the ladies went through a cheerleading boot camp to help the women bond and nail those moves. “It was tough,” Weaver, 71, laughed. “You get a bit creaky at our age.”
The premiere included a post-screening party at WP24, where pom-pom shaking cheerleaders lined up in a tunnel formation and welcomed guests, including Emmy winner Sarah Paulson.
“Poms” hits theaters on May 10.