It looks like Frances McDormand's Oscar speech, requesting that members of the Hollywood community ask for inclusion riders in all of their upcoming projects, has already made an impact. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's production company, Pearl Street Films, has announced they will officially be adopting inclusion riders in all their projects movie forward. This move comes just after Michael B Jordan's own production company, Outlier Society, announced it would be doing the same.
An inclusion rider is a clause an actor or production company can include in their contracts to ensure more diversity and equality on any project they work on, and before McDormand’s speech many had no idea it existed. It was originally created by Stacy Smith, the founder and director of The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The purpose of the inclusion rider, as explained by the Initiative, is to 'ensure equitable hiring in supportive roles for women, POC, the LGBT community, and people with disabilities'.
In a clear nod to Jordan and his Outlier Society production company's first steps to adopt the inclusion rider, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, the head of strategic outreach for Pearl Street, tweeted their own support. “Thank you for always supporting broader representation in the industry,” she wrote. “On behalf of Pearl Street Films, Matt Damon, @BenAffleck, Jennifer Todd, Drew Vinton, & I will be adopting the #InclusionRider for all of our projects moving forward.”
.@michaelb4jordan Thank you for always supporting broader representation in the industry. On behalf of Pearl Street Films, Matt Damon, @BenAffleck, Jennifer Todd, Drew Vinton & I will be adopting the #InclusionRider for all of our projects moving forward. https://t.co/ODit24D2Rb— Fanshen (@fanshen) March 13, 2018
Smith and lawyer Kalpana Kotagal, who is one of lawyers behind the inclusion rider, commented to Variety on the effect of Pearl Street making this statement:
“It’s great to see Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and the Pearl Street Films team using their influence to create opportunities for people from underrepresented groups to enter the industry. The Inclusion Rider is an important tool for Hollywood, and other industries, to create workplaces that truly reflect our diverse world.”
Many have been critical of both Affleck and Damon's responses to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements as a whole, with an online petition being launched to remove Damon's planned appearance in Ocean's 8. Their responses to the entire Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal has raised many eyebrows amongst fans and in Hollywood, so this is definitely a move in the right direction for both of them.
Despite the massive financial success of recent movies like Get Out, Black Panther and Wonder Woman, the film industry has still been incredibly slow to diversify its talent both in front of the cameras and behind them. Change will only happen when those in positions of power wield it to help make those changes. Hopefully, we'll start to see more production companies following in Jordan, Affleck, and Damon's steps and also begin to adopt inclusion riders.