North Texas

‘Inclusion Rider’: What Frances McDormand Was Referencing in Oscars Speech

When Frances McDormand took to the stage to accept the Academy Award for best actress for her role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," she asked the audience for one small favor.

"If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight?" McDormand said.

Then she issued a call to action, saying, "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider."

Immediately there was a spike in Google searches for the term. Coined by Stacy Smith, who researches gender equality in film and television at the University of Southern California, an inclusion rider is a clause that an actor or actress can put in their contract requiring a certain level of diversity in a movies cast and crew.

"Inclusion rider is a relatively new term for something that been done in an informal way for years," said Carla Carter-Bishop, a University of North Texas professor and documentary filmmaker.

"I feel like now, especially in the time that we are in, there's a lot of filmmakers who are doing the work busting the doors open who are making it known that it's important that women have a voice," Carter-Bishop said.

A study commissioned by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative from 2007-2015 showed that of 800 recent films with more than 35,000 speaking roles, women were cast less than one-third of the time. There has been no change in half a century, even though women make up half the population.

"Not to be a pessimist, I'm a little weary of now our use of hashtags and phrases. It's been a part of my work from the beginning. I don't want it to be treated as just a buzzword that's trendy and upcoming. It's not a moment. It's my life as a filmmaker, and it's something that needs to continue to be dealt with and brought to the spotlight," Carter- Bishop said.

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