Frances McDormand has been killing the red carpet game this award’s season, and her Oscar win for her lead role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri last night was no surprise. McDormand has become something of a social media sweetheart these past few weeks, with everything from her speeches to her walks to the stage spawning a legion of devoted fans online. They were no doubt waiting with bated breath to see what she would say in her Oscar winner’s speech and they were not disappointed, as the speech has gone viral over the past few hours.
McDormand began with a stern warning of what was to come in her speech “If I fall over, pick me up because I’ve got some things to say” to a round of cheers. She went on to give a heartfelt thanks to the team behind ‘Three Billboards’ and then went on to include all the female nominees on the night.
McDormand invited every woman who was nominated for an Oscar, whether for acting, directing, writing, design or any other area to stand with each other to a huge round of applause from the audience. She went on to urge every production company to approach these women about the stories they have to tell and the ideas they have, because “we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed”. She finished the speech with two words, which many were left a little stumped by: ‘inclusion rider’.
For anyone confused, an inclusion rider is a term used for a clause in a contract that an actor can insist on, that requires that the cast and crew of a film meet a certain level of diversity. The term was first coined in 2016 in a TED Talk by Stacy Smith, who examined diversity levels in US-produced films, and found that they were not representative of the population. Smith suggested the idea of an ‘inclusion rider’ clause be included in contracts, to ensure that diversity levels were brought up to an appropriate standard.
McDormand’s speech may have everyone talking, but it’s not the first time that the power of a well-thought-out contract in Hollywood has made headlines. A few months ago, fellow Oscar winner Octavia Spencer shared details of how co-star Jessica Chastain negotiated with bosses to ensure a joint deal on an upcoming film so that Spencer would make a significantly higher salary than previously offered. It has been said by many, including Spencer, that this method of negotiation is key to ensuring more diversity and equality in future productions, as more privileged stars have the power to stand up for their colleagues.