It’s been ten days since Frances McDormand’s rousing speech at the Academy Awards when she mentioned two words that are set to change the way the industry hires its actors: “inclusion rider”. After a small furore over what the words actually meant (inclusion riders are clauses in a contract that can be demanded by its signatory that requires a certain level of diversity be met among the cast and crew of a film), the rest of Hollywood started to sit up and take notice. A number of actors, filmmakers and producers have pledged their allegiance to the #TimesUp movement and to using inclusion riders in future contracts.
The latest heavyweights on the film scene to join the movement are a little more controversial than most. Yesterday, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni announced via Twitter that Pearl Street Films, a production company founded by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, would be adopting the clause for all future contracts.
.@michaelb4jordan Thank you for always supporting broader representation in the industry. 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. https://t.co/ODit24D2Rb
— Fanshen (@fanshen) March 13, 2018
While it’s wonderful to see major production bodies in the industry taking a stand against inequality, and especially that white male stars are standing in solidarity with female and minority stars, the announcement did rub some people up the wrong way. Both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have been brought into the #MeToo movement in less than desirable ways; Ben Affleck was accused of sexual harassment by “TRL” and “One Tree Hill” actress Hilarie Burton, and Matt Damon came under fire for his comments about sexual misconduct and the movement’s motivations. With these instances happening not too long ago, many critics were keen to point out the irony of their move to support inclusion riders, with one tweet saying: “They’re gonna need all the PR points they can get”. Others, however, seemed optimistic about the announcement, saying they hoped that this was a turning point for Damon and Affleck.
Directors like Ryan, Ava, Dee Rees and Jordan Peele, among others have known the value of diversity all along. It's white (mostly male) filmmakers who need inclusion riders, starting with Matt and Ben.
— Demassie (@demassie2) March 13, 2018
Of course, Affleck and Damon are not the first Hollywood stars to pledge their support for inclusion riders, and hopefully won’t be the last. Those who have said that they will be adopting the clause in future contracts include actress Brie Larson, actor Michael B. Jordan and director and producer Paul Feig. Here’s hoping that list will continue to grow.