Inclusion Riders and Their Importance


For those of you who didn’t watch the Oscars, Frances McDormand won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017). She’s always been known to be outspoken and quirky—not sharing much about her private life ever she got her cinematic debut in Blood Simple (1984), which was directed by her future husband Joel Coen. She later went on to win her first Best Actress Academy Award for her leading role in Fargo (1996).

Her speech was absolutely fantastic. At first, she seems flustered, but she quickly composed herself and says, “I’ve got some things to say.” One of the first things she mentioned is how she feels like Chloe Kim, who won gold for her snowboarding performance at this year’s Winter Olympics. I love this comparison, because she chose to give a shout out to a strong young woman who absolutely killed it and made her name known around the world. McDormand goes on to thank her husband and son, who she said were well raised by their feminist mothers. Then she said, “If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight.” McDormand, having been in the entertainment business for over 30 years, knows how difficult it is for women to make it in the industry and wanted to share her success with them. The most amazing part about this is that there were so few. It made me happy to see them stand and share in their accomplishments together, but it also made me sad to see how few of them were able to take part in the nominations.

McDormand’s final words during her speech were “inclusion rider.” To be frank, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, so of course, I Googled it. According to NPR, an inclusion rider is “a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film’s cast and crew.”

In a decade long study of over 900 films, NPR states:

  • Just 31.4 percent of speaking characters were female, even though they represent a little more than half the U.S. population.
  • Women represented 4.2 percent of the directors, and just 1.4 percent of the composers.
  • About 29 percent of speaking characters were from nonwhite racial/ethnic groups, compared with nearly 40 percent in the U.S.
  • Only 2.7 percent of speaking characters were depicted with a disability, despite the fact that nearly 20 percent of people in the U.S. has one.

The fact that inclusion riders aren’t already weaved into the fibers of every contract in Hollywood is a problem, but McDormand seized the opportunity to bring it to light, which I think is incredible.

There is no better platform to speak about the entertainment business than at the Oscars, and we were all lucky enough to see these talented women and minorities honored for their hard work. To all the other women out there in this business, keep going. Keep working hard, even if it sucks to be working harder than everyone else. The tides are changing in Hollywood, so let’s get going.

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