As common for recent awards show events, actresses and entertainment influencers of color have been speaking out regarding injustices and harassment within their field. Similar to the decision for all women to wear black at the Golden Globes, many 2018 Academy Award winners used their platform to spread political and sociocultural awareness.
One speech that particularly stood out amongst audiences was that of Frances McDormand, who took home the Best Actress award for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. Throughout her speech, Ms. Dormand used her spotlight to shed a light on the lack of diversity in Hollywood and in media entertainment overall. She ended her speech with strong final words that sent people searching for answers”
“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider.”
Now, what is an inclusion rider, exactly?
Let’s look back on a few recent events in order to get an idea. In the past few months, Octavia Spencer revealed that Jessica Chastain helped her to increase her salary for an upcoming film by five times the expected amount. How would this be possible? They have similar notoriety at this point in Hollywood, and they both hold “Best Supporting Actress” Academy Award wins. How was Jessica Chastain’s original salary so much higher, and how was she able to have that much influence in terms of helping Octavia Spencer?
In essence, Jessica Chastain used her power and pull as a successful white woman in Hollywood to help a fellow, equally talented actress of color. And this can happen again.
An inclusion rider, essentially, is a way to make Hollywood more diverse. An inclusion rider is an addition to a coveted actor/actress’ contract that requires that all cast and crew represent an equal demographic in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation, among other things.
While this is a great idea, would this work?
As we’ve seen before, actresses like Jessica Chastain do have the power to enforce equality and diversity in Hollywood. The question at this point is simple: will actors take the plunge, even though doing so would force them to acknowledge their privilege in the first place?
Another fact of the inclusion rider that should be called into question is the morality of the idea. While the concept of the “inclusion rider” is a valiant effort to bring diversity to entertainment, is it truly moral to cast individuals based on skin color. Likewise, is Hollywood at the point where they need to be forced to include more female actors and actors of color?
This idea also brings up the affirmative action debate, which never ceases to bring about strong opinions. Many who originally opposed affirmative action, for example, claimed that it was immoral to give children access to esteemed higher education solely based on skin color. While this argument would be valid if the argument was this simple, the fact of the matter is that there are many educated people of color who deserved to be accepted in these universities. Rather, they were not given a chance initially due to their skin color. Is it acceptable to be rejected based on color, but unacceptable to be accepted with race in mind?
The fact of the matter is that there are many talented actors, actresses, directors, designers, etc. who are desperate to make it in the industry. However, the cards were stacked against them from the beginning.
Will the idea of an inclusion rider change this? Or will this phenomenon just have directors give all diverse roles to the same small group of already-acceptable minority actors?
And if this does work, how long must diversity be forced until Hollywood can willingly employ minority workers?
What is your opinion on the idea of an “inclusion rider”? Let us know in the comments below!