Frances McDormand took home the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a grieving mother searching for justice for her murdered daughter in the critically acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. During her acceptance speech, the actress gave us one of the most memorable highlights in an otherwise stale awards show when she placed her trophy on the floor and announced she ‘had some things to say.’ Needless to say, everyone is talking about McDormand’s empassioned speech as well as inclusion riders and what, exactly, they are.
McDormand called for all female nominees — not just those in her category, but all present in the Dolby Theatre — to stand and be acknowledged for their work both in front of and behind the cameras. In an Oscar season that saw the first female cinematographer nominated for an Oscar, and only the fifth time a woman has been nominated for Best Director in the show’s 90 year history, McDormand put the power of women in Hollywood boldly on display, making it hard to ignore. With this year’s #MeToo and #TimesUp movements creating much more visibility towards the challenges and struggles women have faced over the years in this industry in particular, the actress went one step further in calling on Hollywood to do something to ensure more diversity and inclusion is present in future projects.
During her acceptance speech (watch it above), McDormand captivated the audience with her words:
“We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Invite us into your office in a couple of days, or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider.”
An inclusion rider is a clause an actor 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. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, whose founder and director Stacy Smith first introduced the idea of the inclusion rider, quickly tweeted out an explanation for all those searching for it’s meaning.
For those of you asking about the #InclusionRider, it's designed to ensure equitable hiring in supportive roles for women, POC, the LGBT community, & people w/disabilities. #DrStacySmith worked with @KalpanaKotagal to craft the language. Contact us to learn more.
— Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (@Inclusionists) March 5, 2018
The Oscar winner admitted backstage while speaking to the press that she had only recently learned that inclusion riders existed herself. “I just found out about this last week,” she said in the press room. “You can ask for or demand at least 50% diversity in not only the casting and the crew. And so the fact that I just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business … we’re not going back. It changes now,” she continued. “And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that. Power in rules.”
There was power in those words, as well. ABC reported there were more than 7000 tweets mentioning those two words in just 20 minutes after McDormand’s win with many people eager to learn what an inclusion rider was. While this awards season did seem to be a small step in the right direction towards acknowledging the work of women and people of color in the industry, we all know there’s so much further to go. Only when those in power begin to start demanding change will it actually happy, but maybe an inclusion rider will be part of the solution to achieving some semblance of equality.
McDormand celebrated her second career Oscar win for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, having previously won for her performance in Fargo. She was nominated alongside Meryl Streep for The Post, Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, and Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird.
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