March 13, 2018

Affleck and Damon pledge to use diversity clauses at their production company as Bridesmaid’s director calls it ‘right thing to do’

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Paul Feig have committed to adopting an “inclusion rider” for their companies’ films as the diversity agreement that Frances McDormand promoted in her Oscars speech continues to spread within Hollywood and other industries.

The public pledges from the high-profile actors and directors to embrace inclusion riders – a contract clause stipulating diversity in casts and crews – has increased pressure on other celebrities and studios to follow suit, and comes as businesses outside of entertainment are also exploring the concept.

“It’s not that hard to do, and it’s just common sense,” Feig, the director of Bridesmaids and the Ghostbusters remake, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I feel like the people who don’t do it now and the studios and companies that don’t do it now are moving backward, not forward.”

The inclusion rider idea went viral earlier this month after McDormand, who won best actress, gave a live shout-out to the contract addendum, which was conceived by Stacy Smith, a University of Southern California professor who studies representation in media.

The rider is designed to set objectives for inclusion on screen and behind the camera, specifying targets for underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, LGBT people and people with disabilities. The hope is that A-list actors could integrate the inclusion rider into contracts, which would help eliminate bias in the hiring and casting process and would produce films that more accurately reflect real-world diversity.

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Kalpana Kotagal, a civil rights lawyer in Washington who crafted the inclusion rider language, said there has been overwhelming interest since the Oscars and that she hopes to see it spread from individual actors to agencies, production companies and the studios.

“It could have tremendous reach,” she said. Kotagal said the idea is applicable to the technology sector, financial services, media and many other fields. “Pick your industry. Anywhere somebody has bargaining power, there is room to negotiate for better employment practices.”

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