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

Frances McDormand used her Best Actress acceptance speech to advocate for diversity on movie sets

Last Updated: March 4, 2018 @ 11:40 PM

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 that will be confusing for everyone out there who doesn’t have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. “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 to you. What exactly is an “inclusion rider?” TheWrap has obtained a copy of a rider that McDormand wants to use moving forward, so we’ve all the answers you need.

In keeping with McDormand’s speech and the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements taking place in Hollywood right now, an inclusion rider is something 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.

McDormand’s inclusion rider contains specific provisions for how film productions should go about making hires for supporting on screen roles and behind-the-camera crew roles. It specifies that for auditions for all supporting roles must include at least one woman and one person “from any other under-represented group” — which it specifies as referring to “people of color, disabled, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender or Queer, or having a combination of these attributes.” And it states that roles written for a male actor are not excluded from that requirement. The big exception listed is in the case of concerns over “story authenticity.”

The same provisions also apply to key crew roles, including director of photography, editor, production designer and composer, among others. No exceptions are given for off-screen production roles.

While Hollywood has made some strides forward in recent years, the industry still struggles to achieve widespread 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.