Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by David Ng on March 6, 2018.
“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”
With that cryptic salvo from the stage at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, lead actress winner Frances McDormand sent much of Hollywood frantically Googling and speed-dialing their attorneys to figure out what exactly an “inclusion rider” is and what repercussions it could have at a time when studios are facing pressure to showcase more diverse casts in movies and TV shows.
The term trended on Twitter after the Oscars broadcast and was Merriam-Webster’s most-searched term of the night. McDormand’s words quickly elicited social media support from other prominent actresses including Brie Larson, who tweeted after the ceremony: “I’m committed to the Inclusion Rider. Who’s with me?”
At its most basic level, an inclusion rider is a clause that a major star can negotiate into his or her contract to ensure that a certain number of women and minorities are considered for jobs on a movie or series. The concept has its root in the NFL’s Rooney Rule, the 2003 policy that requires teams to consider minority candidates for head coaching and other managerial jobs. The inclusion rider is a relatively new concept developed by Stacy L. Smith, director of USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, where she studies gender representation in the entertainment industry and larger media landscape. …