Understanding the ‘Inclusion Rider’

‘Inclusion Rider’ were the last two words that Oscar Winning Actress, Frances McDormand, gave last Sunday night at the end of her acceptance speech.

“I just found out about this last week,” McDormand said. “There has always been available, to everybody that does a negotiation on a film, an inclusion rider, which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but also the crew. And so the fact that I just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business… we’re not going back. So the whole idea of women trending? No. No trending. African Americans trending? No, no trending. It changes now. And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that.”

The Inclusion Rider was first introduced by Stacy L. Smith, associate professor of communication at USC, with an opinion-editorial written in 2014 for the Hollywood Reporter, before talking about it in her 2016 TED Talk.

She came up with the following study she did with her colleagues. The study followed the different ethnicities and genders of the cast and crew for 900 of the most popular movies that came out between 2007 and 2017 – the results were astonishing.

Only 31.4 per cent of speaking characters were female, while only 4.2 per cent of the directors were women. Approximately 29 per cent of speaking characters were from nonwhite racial or ethnic groups while they are nearly 40 per cent in the U.S. alone.

Smith said that her colleagues and herself are currently working with civil rights attorney Kalpana Kotagal to craft an understanding contract negotiation for actors who wish to practice the Inclusion Rider.

The idea is that actors would have the ability, within their contracts, to demand for diversity to be reflected both through cast and crew where women, people of colour and members of the LGBTQ communities are usually underrepresented.

The inclusion rider would ensure that the world represented onscreen looks like the one that we live in.

Following McDormand’s public endorsement last Sunday, ‘Black Panther’ star Michael B. Jordan announced on Instagram that his production company, Outlier Society, will be adopting the inclusion rider.

”I’ve been porivileged to work with powerful woman & persons of color throughout my career & it’s Outlier’s mission to continuate to create for talented individuals going forwards,” he wrote in his post.

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