Actress Frances McDormand evidently turned in a performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” worthy of an Oscar for Best Actress in Sunday’s Academy Awards. But when she came up to accept her award, McDormand doffed her actor hat in favor of her politicizer hat, calling upon her fellow actors to demand that “inclusion riders” appear in their future contracts.
At the end of her speech, McDormand said, “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”
Some viewers at home, who tuned in to see which films and actors came away with the familiar gold statuettes, were unsure what the actress was talking about, judging from buzz that ensued on social media. Luckily a couple of Tinseltowners took to Twitter themselves to explain that an inclusion rider is a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the producer to ensure “diversity” in future films.
An “inclusion rider” is a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the cast and crew be diverse in order to retain the actor. That’s kind of a brave thing to say on such a big stage.
— Phillip Atiba Goff (@DrPhilGoff) March 5, 2018
an inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movie sets. We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can't find a reason to, here's one: it will make movies better.
— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) March 5, 2018
Why exactly it will make movies better Cummings — director of “The Female Brain” — never says. I’m not an expert on movies, but I would think the quality of a film depends on the skills of the actors, the screenwriter, the director, the cinematographer, and a host of other professionals, including the casting director who is tasked with finding actors to fit the roles. Saddling him with the responsibility of satisfying quotas seems anathema to the whole enterprise.
The idea for inclusion riders was the brainchild of Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Stacy Smith, who said during a 2016 TED Talk:
An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live. Now, there’s no reason why a network, a studio or a production company cannot adopt the same contractual language in their negotiation processes.
So how much inclusiveness are McDormand and company seeking? When asked about this by reporters backstage, McDormand explained “at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting, but also the crew.”
I understand that the entire film industry is made up of bleeding heart liberals, so in all likelihood the emphasis on diversity will now replace meritocracy when it comes to film making. Here’s hoping that the Americans willing to plunk down $15 for a movie ticket have two words of their own for Frances McDormand.