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Oscar winner Frances McDormand turns spotlight on ‘inclusion rider’ clause in Hollywood contracts – what is it, and can it work?




In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Frances McDormand gives her speech after winning the Oscar for Best Actress at the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Frances McDormand gives her speech after winning the Oscar for Best Actress at the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Handout/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images

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Frances McDormand left a lot of Academy Awards viewers confused when she ended her best actress acceptance speech with two unfamiliar words: “inclusion rider.”

It turns out the phrase was also new to McDormand, who only heard about it for the first time the week before her Oscar win. It’s an addendum to a contract that “sets clear goals for inclusion” in Hollywood by defining the underrepresented groups that should be focused on, establishing casting and hiring objectives, and then laying out steps for auditioning and interviewing that can help obtain those objectives.

The idea is big-name actors, directors and investors would add an inclusion rider to their contracts when signing on to a project, using their clout to ensure a diverse environment both on screen and behind the scenes.

But what would abiding by an inclusion rider look like in practice? How likely is it they will become commonplace, and are there any reasons a studio wouldn’t want to work under one?

And if you work in the entertainment industry, what are your thoughts on the concept? Could inclusion riders help diversify sets? Would you ever use one yourself?

Guests:

Stacy Smith, co-inventor of the concept of the inclusion rider; founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism that studies diversity and inclusion in entertainment

Kalpana Kotagal, co-inventor of the concept of the inclusion rider; civil rights and employment practice attorney at Cohen Milstein in Washington D.C.



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