This is how to make sure that everyone’s voices are heard.
If ever anyone wanted a masterclass in how to give an acceptance speech, they need only look to Frances McDormand at the 2018 Oscars.
“I’m hyperventilating a little bit. If I fall over pick me up” she said, voice a little jittery, before fixing the barrel of the camera with a withering stare. “Cos I’ve got some things to say.” The winner of the 2018 Best Actress award for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, went on to spotlight the work of every woman nominated for an award in the room that night, entreating every single one of them to stand. Actors and filmmakers, yes, but also writers, editors, songwriters, designers, producers and one lone cinematographer.
“Look around ladies and gentlemen, we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed,” McDormand concluded. “I have two words to leave with you tonight. Inclusion rider.”
By that, McDormand was referencing the clause that actors can place in their contracts specifying that the projects that they work on must have diverse casts and diverse crews. Coined by media researcher Stacy Smith in a 2016 TED talk, inclusion riders are designed to give opportunities to women, people of colour and people with disabilities who struggle to break into the film industry.
Brie Larson stood on the same stage as McDormand two years ago and clutched a Best Actress Oscar of her own. Today, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress revealed that she is not only stipulating inclusion riders on her upcoming films but that she will be ensuring that diversity clauses are part of the myriad of offscreen work she does, too.
“On the Captain Marvel press tour, I’ll be pushing for representation across the board,” Larson explained. “My interviews, magazine covers, the clothes that I’m wearing,” will all be backed by Laron’s push for equal representation for female, BAME and disabled journalists, stylists, social media teams, photographers, designers and hair and makeup artists. It’s a move not dissimilar from Emma Watson’s pledge, while promoting her film Beauty and the Beast, to wear only sustainable and ecologically friendly designers on the red carpet.
“It means spending more time thinking about things than you sometimes want to, but it’s worth it,” Larson said.
The announcement comes after Ellen Pompeo called out a magazine for not employing enough people of color on one of her recent cover photoshoots.
“I think it’s up to all productions to make sure that you crew looks like the world we see,” Pompeo explained. “As Caucasian people, it’s our job. It’s our task. It’s our responsibility to make sure we speak up in every single room we walk into [and say] this is not OK and that we can all do better. It’s our job. We’ve created the problem.”
Larson has recently completed filming on Just Mercy, the first film produced by Warner Bros with an inclusion rider policy. Larson’s co-star Michael B. Jordan was instrumental in advocating for diversity and having inclusion policies implemented across all departments.
“Just Mercy filmed in Atlanta,” Larson said, “so they were able to pull from a certain talent pool there, but I also think they had to fly in certain people in order to meet the quota they were committed to. The movie was made with more than 70% people of color and it was the best experience I’ve ever had. It was the first time in my career that I had hair, makeup and wardrobe crew that were all people of color. I’ve been in SAG since I was seven years old. 20 years I’ve been surrounded by white people. It saddens me to recognize that we’ve been segregated in this way within our industry.”
While inclusion riders are important, we’re still looking forward to the days when stars like Larson won’t need them.
Not because they don’t serve a purpose, because they do, for now. But hopefully in the future working with diverse journalists, stylists, fashion designers and hair and makeup artists will be the rule across the board and not the exception.
And you can check out the newly released trailer below: