Months after Frances McDormand‘s viral Oscars acceptance speech where she name-dropped the concept of an “inclusion rider,” a major film company is adopting it — and therefore allowing actors to demand certain levels of diversity for film projects. With the Michael B. Jordan film Just Mercy, Warner Bros will become the first Hollywood studio to implement the practices of the inclusion rider on a company-wide scale. The rider is intended to help close the gender and race gaps of film casts and crews, a move that’s being applauded by advocates for more diversity in film and TV.
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“Huge credit to Warner Bros. and Michael B. Jordan, who did tremendous work to implement this company-wide,” attorney and inclusion rider co-author Kalpana Kotagal tells Brit + Co. “What [Jordan] and Warner Bros have done here was galvanized by the inclusion ride, but they’ve taken it further and are adopting it for the whole studio. This is the kind of change we hoped the inclusion rider would galvanize.”
Though Frances McDormand may have piqued curiosity, the inclusion rider got its first mainstream mention in a column written by Dr. Stacy Smith, director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, for the “2014 Women in Entertainment” issue of the The Hollywood Reporter. Smith is also one of the co-authors of the new Warner Bros rider, along with Kotagal and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni of Pearl Street Films.
Kotagal tells us that the principles of the inclusion rider are applicable beyond film and TV sets. “We’ve been very clear from the beginning that the inclusion rider embodies a set of best practices for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They’re the kind of practices that needn’t be limited to one actor or one movie,” she tells us. “Our hope is that other studios in Hollywood follow suit, and industries well beyond film and television. I think there’s real room now to make the case that diversity and inclusion are good business and also the right thing to do.”
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