What Is An Inclusion Rider? Explaining Frances McDormand’s Oscars Speech

by Emalani Artiss


Last night, Frances McDormand drove everyone to their search engines when she called for “inclusion riders” in her speech. So, you ask, what exactly is an inclusion rider?

Via Twitter, John Jay College professor Phillip Atiba Goff described an inclusion rider as “a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the cast and crew be diverse in order to retain the actor.” In calling for inclusion riders, McDormand was calling for the industry’s leaders to invest in and have the number of women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities involved in a film reflect their demography in the US. So basically, if actors take action and demand an inclusion rider, they could change (not to mention completely strengthen) representation in film forever.

The term “inclusion rider” was developed by founder and director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Stacy Smith. The idea was first mentioned in Smith’s 2016 TED talk, and has grown stronger ever since. An inclusion rider is designed “to counter biases on the casting, auditioning, interviewing and hiring process. For on-screen roles that are supporting and minor in nature, they have to be filled with norms that reflect the world in which we live,” Smith told The Washington Post.

Smith continued, “The percentage of females on screen hasn’t changed since the late 1940s. That’s because small minor roles and supporting roles are very biased [toward] straight, white, able-bodied males. The goal is that it could really change the entire ecosystem of what we see on screen in a short amount of time if it’s adopted by enough actors, where they ask for this in their contracts.”

“Look around, ladies and gentlemen,” McDormand called out while the powerful female nominees in the audience stood with her, “because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.”

Watch McDormand’s powerful speech at the Huffington Post and learn more about Stacy Smith’s research of Hollywood’s sexism and “inclusion riders” via her TED talk.

image: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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