Frances McDormand won the Oscar for Best Actress last night, and her final words onstage set the internet ablaze: inclusion rider.
After winning Best Actress for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand used her time to honor the other women in the room nominated for Oscars, asking each woman nominated for an Oscar to stand.
She then encouraged the others in the room to meet with these women (in their office, not in casual discussion at an Oscar party) to talk about future project ideas. Her final charge to her colleagues before leaving the stage were the words; “inclusion rider.”
The phrase instantly had Oscar audiences curious, the #InclusionRider hashtag went viral, and according to Merriam-Webster, the word “inclusion” was the most searched word of the night, and “rider” rounded out the top five. So what exactly is an inclusion rider? In short, it is something an actor can put in their contract to ensure the film or television show they’re working on exercises gender and racial equality in those they hire.
It’s another great example how an individual in a position of privilege can use that privilege to lift others up in the industry. An A-list actor adding an inclusion rider to their contract will force movie studios to look for a more diverse group of talented professionals for both cast and crew.
As The Hollywood Reporter reported McDermond saying, not everyone is aware of inclusion riders. The Oscar winner herself said she only just learned that she could contractually request at least 50% diversity in the film’s cast and crew.
Having films and television shows that are more diverse and that represent our modern society more completely is a good thing. It makes us better to not only see ourselves represented onscreen but to see stories representing a wide range of perspectives. Inclusion riders could help Hollywood evolve a bit more quickly to highlight a wider range of voices and talents, and we hope this becomes the new Hollywood normal.