The WarnerMedia companies pledged Wednesday to ‘use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects.’
The inclusion rider is becoming this year’s hot ticket.
The AT&T-owned WarnerMedia conglomerate — which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner — pledged Wednesday to adopt the equality clause popularized by Frances McDormand at this year’s Oscars in order to boost “diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera.”
“WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry,” read the new company-wide policy statement in part.
The first production to follow these marching orders will be the upcoming 2020 drama “Just Mercy,” which stars actor Michael B. Jordan and is produced by his Outlier Society production company. Jordan worked alongside WarnerMedia to launch the new policy.
“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business,” Jordan said in a statement. “The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward.”
An inclusion rider is a clause demanding gender and racial equity for minor roles and below-the-line, off-camera jobs. It’s one way to boost diversity and representation in film of women, minorities, LGBTQ people and the differently abled, says its architect, University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Stacy Smith.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films production company announced in March that it would adopt the rider, according to its head of strategic outreach. “On behalf of Pearl Street Films, Matt Damon, @BenAffleck, Jennifer Todd, Drew Vinton & I will be adopting the #InclusionRider for all of our projects moving forward,” actor-producer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni tweeted.
Pearl Street’s announcement came in response to Jordan’s Outlier Society throwing its weight behind the inclusion rider. Paul Feig, the director behind “Freaks and Geeks” and “Bridesmaids,” also tweeted in March that his Feigco Entertainment would adopt the rider for all future TV and film productions — telling the Guardian the move was “just common sense” and suggesting those who chose not to jump on board were “moving backward, not forward.”
“I’m committed to the Inclusion Rider. Who’s with me?” tweeted Oscar winner Brie Larson after McDormand plugged the rider during her best actress speech.
Singer Janelle Monae, actress Tessa Thompson and comedian Whitney Cummings have also voiced support for the rider on social media. Netflix, as of early March, did not plan to incorporate the rider into contracts, according to USA Today. “We’re not so big on doing everything through agreements,” CEO Reed Hastings reportedly said. “We’re trying to do things creatively.”
Smith, the USC professor, previously told Moneyish she hoped talent agencies would take a “leadership position” in adopting the rider. “I’m waiting for the agencies to call and make a public pledge to adopt, because that would be the home run — not just for the industry, but for all those folks who tune in and don’t see themselves represented,” she said. “This could be a major leap forward for making sure storytelling is as inclusive as the world we live in.”
This story was originally published March 15, 2018, and has been updated.
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