Hallmark’s Diane Sargent Shares Why It’s Never Too Late to Pursue Your Passion
In 2021, a record 47.8 million Americans called it quits at their jobs. While the pandemic saw people spending more time at home, it also gave them the opportunity to search for higher-paying work and roles that aligned more closely with their interests. Coincidently, that also means many have entered into the next chapter of the ‘second act’ of their lives, pursuing brand new careers as actors or actresses in their 40s and beyond.
For Diane Sargent, who was a CFO full-time up until last year, the acting bug didn’t even hit until after she had already had two children, now ages 15 and 17. Born in
South Africa, Sargent’s own story could be a movie. Growing up on her family’s small goldmine in the Transvaal before sailing across the Atlantic for two years on a 43-foot handmade sailboat, her family eventually landed in California where they opened an ostrich ranch near the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Her outgoing personality of entertaining guests as an ostrich jockey led to her initial passion for improv and acting classes which quickly escalated when Sargent signed with a talent agent in Los Angeles.
Today, the 47-year-old Sargent can be recognized from award-winning films like Skin and Blackifier as well as Maul Dogs alongside Eric Roberts. She has also created several popular web series including Overheard in LA, Just Desserts and Doggy Day Care. She currently stars as Donna Tucker in Discount Tire’s popular national commercials.
Sargent’s ‘second act’ comes at a time when there is more of a demand for actors than ever before. The number of original scripted series on television once again hit a record last year with 559. In comparison, on the eve of the streaming revolution in 2011, there were just 266 original scripted series on the airwaves.
“Right now, we’re in a hugely lucrative time period that offers incredible opportunity for all actors, no matter what stage they’re at in their lives,” said Sargent. “Before the pandemic, I had one foot in acting and one foot in the corporate world. But in 2021, I found myself with over 120 auditions for television and film that were taking up the majority of my time and making me realize that it was time to direct all my energy toward one pursuit – and I haven’t looked back since.”
According to the SAG-AFTRA union’s annual performance analysis report for 2020, the number of jobs worked by males and females are roughly the same until age 34. From that point on, the employment opportunities for female performers drop off greatly from those for males, becoming even more apparent after age 40. In fact, males over 40 worked 70% more jobs than their female counterparts.
“Quitting a day job with a steady income to make the switch to acting is incredibly risky, especially if you’re older in life,” said Sargent. Because there are so many shows, there have never been more opportunities for actors, however, roles for women over 40 are still lagging. Thankfully, we do have female Hollywood heavy hitters now coming in and forging a new path with their own production companies and creating content for a market that is hungry for stories that satisfy the need for real, multi-faceted female characters.”
Sargent is set to make her Hallmark debut next month in the network’s all-new original movie Hidden Gems, premiering on Saturday, June 4 at 8pm. She will play the supporting lead role of Betty Watson, loving but meddlesome mom visiting Hawaii for her daughter’s destination wedding. The movie also stars Hunter King, Beau
Mirchoff, Eliza Hayes Maher, Marita De Lara, and Isabelle Du. Hidden Gems is directed by Maclain Nelson.
“People want to see real characters on their screens and there are so many incredible stories yet to be told, particularly outside of the younger, stick-thin generation that we once knew in the 90s,” said Sargent. “It’s the golden age of television for older women and I would argue that there has never been a more exciting time in the history of the small screen for an actress.”