Diverse Customer Shoutout: WarnerMedia Announces New Inclusion Rider - A Better Way to Level the Power Dynamics in Hollywood!

We have much to thank Frances McDormand for bringing Inclusion Rider from the throes of oblivion. An “inclusion rider” is a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the cast and crew to be diverse(up to 50% diversity at that!) in order to retain the actor.

What Frances McDormand said at the Oscars, was a brave thing to say on such a big stage, ... I have a lot of respect for women who speak their truth. With WarnerMedia's decision, it is a phenomenal opportunity to encourage young minorities to enter these fields because, as we see, representation matters...The cultural shift from complacency with the sexist, racist, and all other forms of patriarchy to defiance against it has reached a powerful apex, with its implications trickling even over into industries outside TV and Films.

"Warner Bros has become the first major Hollywood studio to adopt a company-wide policy meant to increase diversity on and off-screen, expanding the “inclusion rider”" -Quote from the article 

To me personally, there is no better way to level the power dynamics in the TV/ Movie industry and a one as big as Hollywood. There have been murmurs in the upper echelons of Hollywood's elites as to why Inclusion Riders shouldn't be the norm in the industry - an industry that is not amongst the best examples of diversity and topical issues like the gender pay gap! Leading actors, the ones who get most work are the ones now advocating for equality and greater inclusion in Hollywood.

Although there are also the cine artists' associations and resource support groups, yet it's been the same old, same old without any meaningful movement towards true inclusion.

I believe signing up to "inclusion rider" is a great first step towards a more diminished groupthink and countering The Silo Mentality! When certain sections get marginalized and often not treated equally as others, the inclusion rider will give a collective voice to those that need to be heard besides delivering the obvious - A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. Having it incorporated in the Hollywood doctrine is not about giving an advantage to certain demographics but giving them a fair starting point! Indeed, this is a powerful reframing. It’s a way of saying that diversity is everyone’s issue and that the dominant group needs to evolve...Eliminating the need for inclusive mechanisms marginalizes the efforts of the artiste who are motivated to create change. 

Especially in Hollywood/TV and without sounding I am an expert in that industry, although I am definitely an expert in the advocacy of "Inclusion". The most common argument against a wider acceptance of inclusion riders has been to increase favoring uniformity/ conformist attitudes based on the premise that a "reservation system" such as this cannot be justifiable. It's akin to a nail that sticks out must be hammered back into the place. Hammering a nail back with the force of prejudice is takes less hard work than dealing with pluralism.

If such is the case then why is inclusion limited only to a certain "type" of an artist who seems to get the most work over and over again. Remember Scarlett Johansson? She backed out after the backlash in playing a transgender man stating, “I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”

While I loved Scarlett Johansson's response, I cringe at the mention of categorizations that many others use indiscriminately: "inclusion of underprivileged talent" and "reservation system for the diverse artistes, etc."- These terms are not only primitive but to constantly use to describe diverse population is outright demeaning. 

Inclusion Rider must not be considered for filling gaps and providing privileges. It's really about the best person for the job. A diverse artiste who has great talent is talented not because of what spectrum of diversity they bring onboard but because they are good at their job and have star power and the pull factor. We've seen what a Black Panther or a Wonder Woman can do!

The underlying question is - why can't capability, proficiency, and meritocracy in giving equal opportunity to any specific artist be extended to everyone who is as good? Not only creating an equal opportunity to compete fair and square to bring the best value and the desired outcome, Inclusion Rider serves as an incentive for the industry to reposition itself a little, changing the focus, to develop a more inclusive and less associative persona.

Some of my favorite quotes in this matter are:

"We’re at a turning point, but we have by no means fixed the misogyny of Hollywood or white patriarchy. But in terms of how we diversify our sets and diversify our on-screen narratives, I definitely think it’s a great time of change." 

- @amandlasponsored , star of the @thehateugivemovie, on Hollywood diversity via @variety


"...with Captain Marvel and many movies to be announced in the near future, I'm anxious for the time where it's not a novelty that there is a female-led superhero movie, but it is a norm. And it is less a story of, 'Oh, look, a female hero', and it's more a story of, 'Oh, what's this about? Who's this character? I'm excited to see that'. And I think we can get there.” 

According to @marvelstudios chief #KevinFeige Via @entertainmentweekly

#diversityandinclusion #representationmatters #diversityinhollywood #diversitymatters #entertainment #Hollywood #activism #diversityinfilms #cinephilecommunity #peopleofcolor #amandlastenberg  

- Amit Anand