Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to adopt inclusion rider for new projects

Prominent producers and celebrities like Paul Feig, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are jumping on the inclusion rider bandwagon following Frances McDormand's best actress Oscar acceptance speech.

'We challenge other companies and studios to do the same,' says Feig

Bridesmaids director-producer Paul Feig (seen with the film's co-producer, writer and star Kristen Wiig, left, and actor Maya Rudolph) is one of a growing number of producers who are choosing to adopt the concept of an inclusion rider. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Prominent producers and celebrities like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Paul Feig are jumping on the inclusion rider bandwagon following Frances McDormand's best actress Oscar acceptance speech.

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, head of strategic outreach at Damon and Affleck's production company Pearl Street Films, said late Monday on Twitter that the company would be adopting the inclusion rider in conjunction with USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

Early Tuesday, Bridesmaids director Paul Feig followed suit saying on Twitter that his company is also going forward with the inclusion rider for all film and television productions. He thanked Stacy L. Smith, the director of USC Annenberg's Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, for her "guidance and inspiration."

"We challenge other companies and studios to do the same," Feig wrote.

Black Panther actor Michael B. Jordan was one of the first to lend his public support to the concept after the Oscars for his company Outlier Society, which is developing a sci-fi series for Netflix and other projects.

McDormand brought new attention to contract addendums requiring studios to hire a diverse crew and cast for a project at the Oscars on March 4. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative explained the concept in a December 2017 paper, crediting Smith as having crafted the rider with employment attorney Kalpana Kotagal.

What exactly is an inclusion rider? Watch co-creator Stacy L. Smith explain the concept in the video below.

Push for 'inclusion rider' in film

CBC News

3 years ago
Stacy Smith, the founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, speaks about Frances McDormand's surprise reference to her inclusion rider concept at the Oscars. 5:06

Producers working on inclusive hiring

Pearl Street Films has been working toward addressing the crisis of representation in the entertainment industry with Annenberg's guidance for nearly two years after Damon and his show Project Greenlight became embroiled a controversy over the show's choice to spotlight a film by a white, male director.

During the production, he clashed with producer Effie Brown in a conversation that was perceived to be racially insensitive.

Actor-producers Matt Damon, left, and Ben Affleck have been working on addressing representation, under the guidance of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

In response to an outcry for more diversity, Damon told The Associated Press in July 2016 that an idea they were exploring was putting clauses in contracts to promote more inclusive hiring — in what appears to be an early precursor to the inclusion rider. That was around the time when J.J. Abrams and Ryan Murphy began actively trying to diversify their production teams.

But when Pearl Street announced their adoption of the concept Monday, some on social media scoffed. Both Damon and Affleck have in the past five months faced public scrutiny for either comments (in Damon's case) or alleged past behaviour (in Affleck's case) in the #MeToo era, which to some are emblematic of an outmoded entertainment industry.

Others called it a step in the right direction.

Not all companies are jumping to embrace the practice of instituting inclusion riders.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said last week that his company is, "Trying to do things creatively" and not just through "agreements," USA Today reported.