Frances McDormand ended her powerful Oscars speech with two words: “Inclusion rider.” But what is an inclusion rider?
A rider has long been a part of Hollywood contracts, with it including a set of requests or demands from an artist, which could be as simple as what they want provided in their trailer. But as the star of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri explained in the press room after her Best Actress acceptance speech on Sunday, an inclusion rider is much more important.
“I just found out about this last week,” she shared. “There has always been available, to everybody that does a negotiation on a film, an inclusion rider, which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but also the crew. And so the fact that I just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business… we’re not going back. So 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.”
Comedian and director Whitney Cummings also provided an explanation of inclusion riders and why they should be supported. “An inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movies sets,” she tweeted after McDormand’s speech. “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.”
Jessica Chastain provided a recent example of an A-list star using their power to ensure racial diversity and equal pay. The Oscar-nominated actress ensured that Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, her costar in The Help, got five times her asking salary for their upcoming film.
In January, Spencer revealed that after the two decided to reunite, Chastain told her, “It’s time that women get paid as much as men.” This prompted Spencer to explain the challenges black actresses face when negotiating their pay. “And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women. So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table,’” Spencer explained. “And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color.”
Continued Spencer: “She said, ‘Octavia we’re gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing.’ Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
Following McDormand’s speech, actresses such as Oscar winner Brie Larson shared their support for inclusion riders on social media.