Sunday’s Oscars showed just how far the Academy Awards have come from the days of #OscarsSoWhite — and how far the entertainment industry still has to go to achieve real gender, racial, and other forms of diversity.
Now, “Black Panther” star Michael B. Jordan is doing his part to increase opportunities for underrepresented communities in Hollywood by implementing an “inclusion rider” in his production company, Outlier Society.
An “inclusion rider,” as actress Frances McDormand alluded to in her powerful Oscars speech Sunday, is a clause in a contract that requires cast and crew to meet certain diversity levels, including inclusion of people of different genders, racial backgrounds, and sexual orientation.
It’s fitting that Jordan’s company, which calls itself an outlier, would be one of the first production houses to implement inclusion riders in future films.
“In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society,” Jordan wrote on Instagram. “I’ve been privileged to work with powerful woman & persons of color throughout my career & it’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward.”
Hollywood’s gender disparity is well-established. According to a 2012 USC-Annenberg study, just 12% of the top 900 films from 2007-2016 had a balanced cast.
But minority populations are also significantly underrepresented in top films.
In those same 900 films, minority characters made up just 30% of all characters, despite being 40% of the US population.
A diversity rider would address this problem head-on, Stacy L. Smith, the director of USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, and the inventor of the inclusion rider, wrote in a Hollywood Reporter op-ed in 2014.
“What if A-list actors amended every contract with an equity rider? The clause would state that tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it’s sensible for the plot,” she wrote. “Imagine the possibilities if a few actors exercised their power contractually on behalf of women and girls.”