Oscars: What Is an ‘Inclusion Rider,’ That Thing Frances McDormand Mentioned in Her Acceptance Speech?

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Frances McDormand gave a powerful acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards when she won the Oscar for Best Actress, asking all the women nominees at the awards show to stand and be recognized.

McDormand ended the speech with something a little bit confusing, though. “Two words, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider,” she said.

If you don’t work in Hollywood, though, those two words might not make a lot of sense. What exactly is an “inclusion rider?”

In keeping with McDormand’s speech and the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements taking place in Hollywood right now, an inclusion rider people working in film can include in their contracts. The clause can be added to contracts for actors and others working on a movie, requiring that the movie’s producers hire a diverse cast and crew. If the movie wasn’t diverse, it would give the actor a legal reason to back out of the contract — meaning the rider could have a serious effect on all the hiring practices on a film.

Adding the rider to contracts is a way that actors, directors and other people in high demand working on movies can use that power to advocate for diversity throughout the production.

While Hollywood has made strides forward, the industry still struggles to achieve diversity. At the Oscars, more than five times more men than women won awards, for instance — that’s 33 men taking home Academy Awards, and just six women.

The Oscars were also criticized in the past for including a vast majority more white nominees than people of color, which gave rise to the social media hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite in 2015, when all the actor nominees were white. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself also has been criticized in the past for being mostly made up of older white men.

McDormand, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” advocated for more celebrities to make use of the rider as Hollywood has seen the rise of the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements. Both rose as response to accusations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in Hollywood and beyond, as well as in answer to sexist hiring and pay practices against women.

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