Frances McDormand Explains 'Inclusion Rider' After Oscars Win

Libby Birk


If you watched the Oscars Sunday night, you may have been confused by the last two words in Frances McDormand's Best Actress acceptance speech: "inclusion rider."

After asking all the nominated women in the room to stand, McDormand said, "Okay, look around ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don't talk to us about it at the parties tonight; invite us into your office in a couple 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."

At first, many were confused as to whether McDormand said "inclusion writer" or "inclusion rider," but the 60-year-old explained in the press room after the telecast wrapped that she was referring to a clause actors can add to contracts to demand better representation and diversity in films.

A rider has long been a part of Hollywood contracts as a set of requests or demands from an artists, which could be as simple as what they want provided in their trailer. But McDormand explained that an inclusion rider is much more important.

After the Oscars, she told reporters she had just found out about the phrase last week, and that it means you can "ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting, but also the crew." She added that a problem lies in the fact that she just now found out about the option after working in Hollywood for 35 years.

Comedian and director Whitney Cummings also provided an explanation of inclusion riders and why they should be supported.

“An inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movies sets,” she tweeted after McDormand’s speech. “We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can’t find a reason to, here’s one: it will make movies better.”

Vanity Fair reports "inclusion rider" is a term created by USC professor Stacy Smith and civil-rights and employment-practice attorney Kalpana Kotagal.

“It’s a short addition to a contract that an actor can take into negotiations with a studio that would provide for a hiring and casting process that basically follows some best practices and helps to cut through some unconscious bias to hopefully lead to casting and crew hiring that better reflects the world that we live in,” Kotagal told The Huffington Post.

Other actresses, like Oscar winner Brie Larson, shared their support for inclusion riders on social media.

"I'm committed to the inclusion rider. Who's with me?" Larson said.

"Fran McD for the f—ing WIN," wrote Elizabeth Banks, adding the hashtags #inclusionrider, #timesup and #oscars.

Ashley Judd joined in, too, writing, "Thank you, Frances McDormand. Inclusion. Rider."

“The fact that I just learned that after 35 years of working in the film business — we’re not going back,” McDormand said Sunday. “The whole idea of women ‘trending’ — no, no trending. African-Americans ‘trending?’ No, no trending. It changes now. And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that. Power in rules.”

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