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What’s An Inclusion Rider?

Oscar Sunday was almost two weeks ago, but the conversation still remains. History was made with Jordan Peele winning Best Original Screenplay and Guillermo Del Toro for Best Picture and Best Director. Although there were groundbreaking winners who made their  way to the 90th Academy Awards, there is still a long way to go for women and people of color. Fortunately, that did not go unnoticed by a number of the stars at the ceremony, including Frances McDormand.

Frances McDormand won the award for Best Actress on Oscar Sunday, and her speech was one to remember. When her name was called, she gave her thanks like everyone else who won that night, but she eventually had a moment when she set down her statue and proceeded to talk about diversity in Hollywood. She asked for every female nominee in every category, including cinematographer, directors, and screenwriters to stand before she asked for everyone to look around and see that all of these filmmakers had stories to tell. Lastly, she finished her speech with the words “Inclusion rider.”

Those words left both the audience at home and in the theater confused and thinking, “what does that mean?” An inclusion rider is a contractual provision that demands diversity in the production staff and cast (in the film industry) including people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Stacy L. Smith, the founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, coined the term to ensure that people in these underrepresented groups have a place in the field of cinema, and other workplaces such as advocacy and research programs as well. Since Frances McDormand’s oscar speech, many actors, actresses, and producers have decided to include inclusion riders in their contracts. This not only includes different types of people, but also suggests that stories should be told accurately to where the story is taking place, and show the world on screen accurately to the one that is seen in real life. Though this is a fairly new term, it is an overdue concept that we can hopefully be able to see had an impact on Hollywood films to come.

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