Confused About What An ‘Inclusion Rider’ Is? We Broke It Down For You

The 2018 Oscars are over and things are starting to sink in. One of them is the powerful speech delivered by Best Actress Winner, Frances McDormand for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. During her speech, McDormand asked all the female nominees to rise with her as part of a powerful message to the film industry which included the term, ‘inclusion rider’.

But first, here’a snippet of her speech.

“Look around, ladies and gentlemen. We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties. Invite us into your office in a couple days — or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best — and we’ll tell you all about them.” 

Yep, pretty damn powerful.

Then, toward the end of her speech she said,“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen – Inclusion Rider.”

A lot of people who aren’t so familiar with the film industry were kinda confused by this final term and TBH, so was I. So, here’s what it means according to the experts.

The ‘Inclusion Rider’ is a clause that can be added to a the A-Lister actor’s contract where they can ask and/or demand a film’s cast and crew to be more representative of today’s society. According to the woman who co-created the concept, Dr Stacy Smith, this clause would include at least 50 per cent gender parity, 40 per cent inclusion for underrepresented people of colour, five percent LGBTQI+, and 20 per cent for people with a disability.

Once added to the contract, film studios could face penalties or a fee if they do not meet these terms.

Dr. Smith is also the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California and in 2016, she discussed the possibility of the clause at a Ted talk. Dr. Smith spent the talk discussing the low numbers of data that represented female actors in Hollywood and the blatant under-representation of minorities. Dr. Smith suggested an ‘inclusion rider’ could change all of this.

In her Ted talk, Dr. Smith said,

“The typical feature film has about 40 to 45 speaking characters in it. I would argue that only 8 to 10 of those characters are actually relevant to the story. The remaining 30 or so roles, there’s no reason why those minor roles can’t match or reflect the demography of where the story is taking place. An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live.”

After her speech, McDormand revealed in the press room that she had only learnt about the clause recently.

“I just found out about this last week. This has always been available to everybody that does a negotiation on a film…The fact that I just learned that after 35 years of working in the film business—we’re not going back. The whole idea of women ‘trending,’ no, no trending. African Americans ‘trending?’ No, no trending. It changes now. And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that. Power in rules.”

Power in rules.

You can watch McDormand’s backstage speech below.

The concept has yet to be adopted throughout the industry but McDormand’s speech could help make it a reality.

You can watch Dr Smith’s Ted talk below.