By EMILY WEIKL
When Frances McDormand won Best Actress at the Oscars on March 4, she ended her speech with a phrase that many outside the entertainment industry were unfamiliar with.
“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider,” she said.
Those words were then searched by a flurry of people around the country and across the world.
“‘Inclusion’ is our top search on the night,” Merriam Webster tweeted on March 5, “followed by ‘cinematography,’ ‘in memoriam,’ ‘feminism,’ and ‘rider.’”
But the burning question the next day was, “What does it mean?”
“An ‘inclusion rider’ is a clause that an actor can insist be inserted in their contract that requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity,” according to The Guardian.
Inclusion riders were developed by Stacy Smith, the founder and director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. It was drafted with Kalpana Kotagal, of law rm Cohen Milstein, and producer and actor Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.
An inclusion rider is used “to counter biases on the casting, auditioning, interviewing and hiring process,” according to The Washington Post.
If an A-list actor insists that an inclusion rider is included in their contract, or if agencies o er them to actors, films could be a lot more diverse.
“The clause would state that tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the lm, as long as it’s sensible for the plot,” Smith said.
The lack of diversity in Hollywood has been a subject of derision. All the main acting nominees for the Oscars were white in 2015 and 2016, which sparked the #OscarsSoWhite social media trend.
#OscarsSoWhite was about more than just awards. It showed that actors who are white will be showered with praise while minority actors struggle to find leading roles.
“In both film and television, women and minorities remained notably underrepresented in every arena in 2016,” according to a report issued in February by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.
Inclusion rider clauses can change these numbers dramatically if they are implemented more often. A recent example of a company using the clause is Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society.
“In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society,” Jordan wrote in a caption on an Instagram photo on March 7.
Jordan’s decision to include the inclusion rider clause is a step in the right direction. More minorities and women in lm can tip the scale. Plus, recent films like “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” have proven that such films can be pro table at the box office.
“[Films like “Get Out” and others] certainly, have shown that not only will these projects be sought after by multicultural audiences but by mainstream audiences as well,” former William Morris Endeavor talent agency partner Charles D. King said. “We may be nearing a turning point, but we haven’t fully reached it yet.”