In one of the most powerful moments of the first #MeToo Oscars, best actress winner Frances McDormand invited all of the other female nominees in the room to stand up and be recognized. Then she told the men to look around.
“We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed,” she said. “Invite us into your office in a couple of days, or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we’ll tell you all about them.” And then she signed off with a phrase that sent many people to Google, or Merriam-Webster. “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider.”
What the heck is an inclusion rider? It’s a way to make Hollywood more equitable. Actors sign contracts when they are cast in films, and they have the ability to negotiate for riders, or additional provisions. An inclusion rider is a stipulation that the minor roles of a film reflect the demography of where the film takes place, including a proportionate number of women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities. Big name actors who have leverage in negotiations could put this stipulation into their contracts, and drastically change representation in film.
The idea was developed by Stacy Smith, founder and director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and drafted with Kalpana Kotagal of the law firm Cohen Milstein and and the producer and actor Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni. Smith spoke about it in a TED talk in 2016, and the idea has been gaining ground ever since.
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