A very excited Frances McDormand came to the stage Sunday night at the 90th annual Academy Awards to accept the Oscar for best actress for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. “If I fall over, pick me up because I’ve got some things to say,” she began, adding that she was hyperventilating. And did she ever have some things to say.
At one point in her speech, she implored all of the women who were nominated for an Oscar on Sunday to stand, which they did — a moment that made for a powerful moment of recognition. She then implored the male producers in Hollywood to listen to their ideas for movies and take them seriously.
As McDormand closed out her epic speech, she told audience in the Dolby Theatre and watching on TV, “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentleman: inclusion rider.”
So, what exactly is an inclusion rider? Well, the woman behind the concept talked to The Guardian and explained how it works. An inclusion rider is a term performers can negotiate into their contracts that stipulates certain diversity requirements are met among cast and crew besides themselves working on films. It’s also sometimes referred to by another two-word phrase: equity clause.
“The typical feature film has about 40 to 45 speaking characters in it,” Stacy Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, told The Guardian. She also explained the concept in-depth during a 2016 Ted Talk on the subject, which can be viewed here. “I would argue that only eight to 10 of those characters are actually relevant to the story. The remaining 30 or so roles, there’s no reason why those minor roles can’t match or reflect the demography of where the story is taking place. An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live.”
Whitney Cummings, the creator of 2 Broke Girls and Whitney, tweeted about how pivotal an inclusion rider can be, saying that the measure should be supported “for a billion reasons, but if you can’t find a reason to, here’s one: it will make movies better.”
an inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movie sets. We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can't find a reason to, here's one: it will make movies better.
— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) March 5, 2018
After the Oscars wrapped up, McDormand revealed that the inclusion rider was a concept that she’s just recently learned about, but was moved the the power it holds, particularly when deployed by Hollywood’s elite performers.
“You can ask for or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting and the crew,” McDormand said backstage. “The fact that I just learned that after 35 years in the film business — we aren’t going back.”
Below, watch a highlight from her speech.
Read the full story at The Guardian.