Michael B. Jordan’s company to adopt inclusion rider on all projects

From Frances McDormand's speech to Jordan's actions, inclusion riders are taking flight in Hollywood

Published March 8, 2018 1:00PM (EST)

Michael B. Jordan as  N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens in "Black Panther" (Marvel Studios)
Michael B. Jordan as N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens in "Black Panther" (Marvel Studios)

"Black Panther" star Michael B. Jordan announced that his media and production company, Outlier Society, will adopt inclusion riders for all its future projects. The move, which would contractually oblige each work to prioritize diversity, is a trailblazing step in the ongoing battle to make Hollywood a more equitable space for women and minorities.

"I’ve been privileged to work with powerful women and persons of color throughout my career, and it’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward," Jordan wrote on Instagram Wednesday. He then linked to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which since 2005 has studied diversity in film and presented research-based solutions to help foster greater inclusion in Hollywood.

The initiative is led by Dr. Stacy Smith, who first proposed inclusion riders as a viable solution to address inequality on screen in 2014. "The concept is that A-list actors can incorporate a clause in their contracts that stipulates that inclusion — both on camera and behind the scenes for crew members — be reflected in films," the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative wrote in a statement after the Oscars Sunday. "The rider states that women, people of color, people with disabilities and members of LGBT and marginalized communities who are traditionally underrepresented be depicted on screen in proportion to their representation in the population."

"Inclusion rider" was the phrase actress Frances McDormand closed her Oscar-winning speech with Sunday, after first asking every female nominee to stand. It was a new concept for many, and one McDormand thrusted into the national spotlight. She told reporters that night that she had just learned of the clause herself.

She said:

I just found out about this last week. There is, has always been available to all ― everybody that gets, that does a negotiation on a film ― an inclusion rider, which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting, but also the crew. And so, the fact that we, that I, just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business ― it’s not, we’re not going back. So the whole idea of women trending, no. No trending. African-Americans trending, no. No trending. It changes now, and I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that. Right? Power in rules.

In recent years, many women of color have adopted this model without the formal language. For both seasons of Ava Duvernay's television show "Queen Sugar," she employed female directors for every episode. Similarly, Shonda Rhimes has contributed substantially to, as she says, "normalizing" TV, with the regular inclusion of women, people of color and LGBT characters in all of her shows. In another avenue, Octavia Spencer revealed that actress Jessica Chastain tied their contracts together for an upcoming project to ensure not just her hiring, but that Spencer would be paid equitably to Chastain to combat the phenomena of women of color being paid significantly less than their white peers.
Smith told HuffPost that the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is "thrilled" by Jordan's announcement and commitment to the inclusion rider. "He and the members of his team are true leaders," she continued. "We hope other actors and content creators will follow their lead and make inclusion something that is embedded in all of their projects."
Jordan, too, from "Fruitvale Station," to "Creed" to "Black Panther," has been at the center of groundbreaking film projects and diverse storytelling. Moving forward, the test will be whether straight white men — those with the most privilege and traditionally the most negotiating power — will follow suit.

By Rachel Leah

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