Guest Blogger: Chris Moore
Chris is a grad student studying communication at UCM.
Inclusion Riders and the Future of Hollywood
Back in March of this year, Frances McDormand took the stage at the 90thAcademy Awards to accept the award for Best Actress. Like her characters she portrays so well, she immediately grabbed everyone’s attention with her speech as she asked for all of the women in the audience to stand up. She told the room to look around. Told the men in the room to take notice. She pointed out how there are so many talented women who are ready to work. That there are plenty of people eager to bring forth new ideas to Hollywood, if only they had more opportunity. “We all have stories to tell,” she said.
Right before she left the stage, Frances McDormand ended her speech with; “I have two words to leave with you tonight. Ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”
And the room listened.
Following her speech, many people wondered just what an “inclusion rider” actually was. Merriam-Webster even said it was one of their most searched terms for the day. It was apparent that more than just the room was listening.
So, what is an inclusion rider?
Well, a rider itself is simply a list of requests (or demands, however you want to look at it) that the performer wants fulfilled in order to complete the performance they were hired for. The requests can be technical or personal and often have a mixture of both. The personal ones are the fun demands you usually hear rumors about, like rock bands wanting only a certain color of M&M’s in a bowl, or pink toilet paper only. Riders can appear overly demanding but there is usually a good reason behind the specific things they request. *Keyword: usually.
Some are almost completely technical. For instance, I once received an email with actor Crispin Glover’s rider for a traveling live act of his I was going to help set up. When I opened his rider and saw that it was over six pages of single spaced walls of text, I thought to myself, “Holyyyy… for a small, one man show?!” But after looking it over, I quickly realized that he had written it himself and the whole thing was compiled over time to help the people in my position. He had seen what had worked in the past, what didn’t, and compiled an extensive list that (if followed correctly and not blown off) would make all of our lives easier when we worked together. It wound up being super-helpful and really showed he was both professional and courteous.
Some riders can get a bad rep, but some can be extremely helpful to everyone involved.
Now, when Frances McDormand brought the idea of an inclusion rider to the front of everyone’s minds, she was simply talking about using some of those requests to make sure some of your fellow co-workers have less of an uphill battle in trying to be considered for jobs.
This can be really effective when a bigger name adopts inclusion riders. The bigger the name, the bigger the pull. You think a studio is going to tell Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington to get lost when they request that their work environment resemble real world demographics? Nah. Definitely not. And that’s why it is kind of brilliant.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out, if people will use this tactic to help bring more diversity to entertainment. Actor Michael B. Jordan committed to having his production company, Outlier, adopt inclusion riders into their future projects. From there he convinced Warner Bros. to include it for a movie he is filming with them and in turn, they expanded it to a company wide policy.
Only time will tell how much of a difference it makes, but if a company as big as Warner Bros. is adopting it, I’d say it’s off to a good start.