Please, Don’t Give Angela Bassett This “Compliment” About Her Age

Angela Bassett
Directed by Spike Lee; Photograph by LaToya Ruby Frazier; Styled by Costume designer Ruth E. Carter.

A few years ago, Angela Bassett was buying groceries when the cashier remarked on how young she looked. “Hearing that is a wonderful thing, seeing as I’m 80!,” the then-60-year-old replied on the spot. She relayed the anecdote in an Allure cover story with the headline “Stop Asking Angela Bassett Why She Looks ‘So Young’ For Her Age”—a plea that, much to Bassett’s chagrin, has not proven successful in the years since.

The phrase remains just as familiar to the now 63-year-old these days—along with just as nonsensical. “I think when we take care of ourselves, we do look good for our age,” Bassett said in InStyle’s February cover story. “Whatever age that is, you know?” Naturally, the topic has overlapped with one of her most acclaimed films, 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, over the years. “I can't tell you how many times ladies have come up to me and said, ‘I got my groove back,’” Bassett continued. “They're embracing their sensuality and youth.”

Of course, aging in the public eye is a somewhat different matter. But Bassett has hopes for the industry in the future. “In Hollywood, there was a time when people believed that once an actress turns 40, it's over,” she said. “But no, those things that make us who we are—our sensuality, sexuality, compassion, and intelligence—that doesn't come to an end. It deepens and ripens, you know? It's all in the attitude.”