The Oscars' Best Actress Award Winner Frances McDormand Has Only Two Words For Hollywood: "Inclusion Rider"
Gone are the days when Oscar winners used their acceptance speeches to flatter themselves.
?#FrancesMcDormand American actress has won 2Academy Awards, 2Primetime Emmy Awards, & a Tony Award: "Triple Crown of Acting." Championed women nominees? 2018 Academy Awards ?"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider." ?(Level of diversity) #WomenHistoryMonth ?#diversity #hollywood #oscars
A new era is on the rise, one where entertainment bigwigs use their stage time Hollywood's biggest event to bring to light relevant advocacies and movements. At the Golden Globes, the world saw Oprah speak passionately about ending abuse in Hollywood. At the Oscars, there was Frances McDormand, a seasoned actress who brought home her second Academy Award for portraying a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter in drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, who made inviting minorities in Hollywood (who are mostly women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGTBQ community) to learn more about inclusion riders.
“I have two words to leave with you tonight: inclusion rider," she said as she concluded her speech, only to be met with faint applause from the far end of the venue—a clear indication of the general unawareness of the true weight of those words.
The concept of "inclusion riders" first surfaced in 2016 when lawyers Kalpana Kotogal and Stacy Smith of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative pushed for groundbreaking legal changes in the ways Hollywood promoted diversity. Simply put, inclusion riders are clauses that actors and actresses can ask to be included in their contracts. Inclusion riders will insist that 50% of a film's cast and crew will be composed of Hollywood minorities.
It's a tough legal change to impose on an industry that, historically, has not had the best relationship with minority groups, but for attorneys Kalpana and Stacy, one that's sorely needed. Hundreds of conversations about the need for more diversity and inclusivity in Hollywood have been had, with barely any of them leading to tangible, meaningful, and most importantly, sustainable change.
Now that the issue is being tackled from a legal stance, they hope that concrete results can be expected. And with someone like Frances McDormand championing their cause, they can at least bank on piquing the interest of powerful players in the industry to get the wheels turning.
But the mention of inclusion riders wasn't the only admirable thing the salt and pepper-haired actress pulled off that night.
Upon thanking her family, her director, her cast mates, and other individuals who paved the way for her win, Frances promptly set down her golden statue on the floor and gave it a few pats on the head in a rather symbolic gesture that seemed to say, "This is an honor, but there is something much more important than coming home with a statuette."
Just when you thought you couldn’t love a person anymore than you already did!!! ?????? #Repost @hollywoodreporter ··· Frances McDormand explains inclusion riders backstage: "You can ask for or demand at least 50% diversity in not only the casting and the crew. The fact that I just learned that after 35 years in the film business – we aren’t going back." #Oscars
Straightening up and facing her glamorous audience with a noticeably more serious demeanor, she said, "And now I want to get some perspective. If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in categories stand with me tonight. The actors—Meryl, if you do it, everyone else will—the filmmakers, the directors, the producers, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the designers," to which the addressed responded with a shyness that was eventually overcome with pride.
In a matter of seconds, women who filled all sorts of positions in film production, be they actresses or behind-the-scenes crews, stood up in solidarity with Frances.
"Look around, everybody, look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell, and we all have 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, whatever suits you best and we'll tell you all about them,” she said with purpose, and with the sole intention of honoring female talent in male-dominated Hollywood.
Without a doubt, Frances McDormand owned the night.
The Oscars may have brought the 2018 Hollywood awards season to a close, but it seems that a new time is opening for the industry: one that's fueled by fairness and integrity, and one led by visionaries like Frances McDormand who can captivate an audience of millions, both on and off-screen.
Watch the clip below to see Frances McDormand's full acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards.
Photo from @rinzyreviews