What is an Inclusion Rider?


Abbey Alexander '19

Helen Innes '19 watches Frances McDormand's speech from the 2018 Academy Awards

Abbey Alexander, Arts and Entertainment Editor

There’s always one. Every year, at every award show, there’s always one speech that stuns the audience and makes a lasting effect on everyone who sees it, hears about it or talks about it. For only a few moments, the winning actor/actress of that award has a chance to reach an audience of millions of people. A chance to say whatever they want about whatever they want. Some thank their parents, some crack jokes and some make commentary on the world around them. The most memorable speeches are often the ones that combine all three of these. This year, winner of Best Actress in a Leading Role, Frances McDormand, used her speech as a way to ingrain two specific words into everyone’s head.

I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: “inclusion rider.”

What is an “inclusion rider?” The speech may have had less of an initial impact on those who were unfamiliar with the term, but it seemed to do its job; “inclusion rider” was the most searched term of the night on Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. McDormand got the term in people’s heads and in their mouths, and that seemed to be the intention.

As the countless number of people who searched it that night soon found out, an inclusion rider is something actors can ask for on their contracts when they participate in projects, that requires 50% of the crew to include ‘diversity.’ This means more women, more minorities, more under-represented groups whose time of hiding in the shadows is up.

For years, there has been a shockingly low number of roles occupied by minorities and women, especially in comparison to the number of roles occupied by white men. Not only in front of the camera, but behind as well. Writers, producers, cinematographers, directors, costume designers, set designers, the list goes on. With all the strong, resilient, intellectual women and minorities in the world, it’s astonishing so few of them occupy these positions in award-winning, big-budget movies. This year, we’ve seen change, with directors such as Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, but the ratio is still way off.

Frances McDormand was a winner on the night of the Oscars in more way than one. Not only did she take home an actual academy award, but she succeeded in making her voice heard, as well as so many other voices that have been silenced in Hollywood throughout the years.