As actor Frances McDormand accepted the Oscar for best actress for her riveting role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” she urged all other female nominees to stand up.
"Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed," she said, adding, "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider."
So what is an inclusion rider, exactly? According to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, the rider is "an addendum to a contract that creates conditions for more equitable casting and hiring, focused on developing a diverse talent pipeline in the entertainment industry.”
The inclusion of such language “represents a crucial step in eliminating exclusion of underrepresented or marginalized groups.”
Stacy Smith, the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative who has written on the subject, said Sunday night that an example of a typical inclusion rider “could require the cast be 50 percent female, 40 percent underrepresented ethnic groups, 20 percent people with disabilities, and 5 percent L.G.B.T. people.” And if violated, the studio or distributor could face a fee or penalty.
It’s an idea that would ensure “the world onscreen looks like the world in which we live,” Smith told the New York Times.
McDormand said backstage Sunday that though the concept isn’t new, she had only learned about inclusion riders last week.
"The fact that I just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business, we're not going back," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.