When Frances McDormand closed her Oscar acceptance speech last weekend with the phrase “inclusion rider,” very few had ever heard the term based on the scanty applause in the audience and the spike in Google searches.
Deemed the Rooney Rule for Hollywood, Stacy L. Smith, who directs the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, introduced the idea in a 2014 column:
What if A-list actors amended every contract with an equity rider? The clause would state that tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it’s sensible for the plot. If notable actors working across 25 top films in 2013 had made this change to their contracts, the proportion of balanced films (about half-female) would have jumped from 16 percent to 41 percent. Imagine the possibilities if a few actors exercised their power contractually on behalf of women and girls. It wouldn’t necessarily mean more lead roles for females, but it would create a diverse onscreen demography reflecting a population comprised of 50 percent women and girls.
An “inclusion rider” is a clause that actors and actresses can ask to be inserted into their contract that would require diversity among a film’s cast and crew.
In light of the global success of the Black Panther movie, actor Michael B. Jordan announced yesterday that he will be adopting the diversity clause for all the projects his production company, Outlier Society takes on going forward.
“In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society,” the post read. “I’ve been privileged to work with powerful woman & persons of color throughout my career & it’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward.”
The announcement comes just a day after Netflix CEO’s Reed Hastings said his company has no interests in doing such a thing. Reed said he would rather have his staff speak with filmmakers to determine how diverse the overall cast and crew on a film is.
“We’re not so big on doing everything through agreements,” Hastings said at a press briefing in his office. “We’re trying to do things creatively.”
In January, comedian and Oscar-winning actress Monique called for a boycott of the movie streaming service over gender and pay disparity issues, noting that Netflix allegedly offered her $500,000 for a comedy special while offering millions in compensation to Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock.
While the company, which has an estimated 117 million subscribers continues to play an important role in Hollywood, putting on more shows with diverse casts and producers is a great example of the easiest, quickest, and least permanent execution of diversity, noted Black Enterprise Editor-at-Large Alfred Edmond Jr.
While the company deserves praise for the diversity of its shows, its board is made up of white men and five women, with African Americans only making up 4% of its staff and leadership.