Matt Damon, Ben Affleck Become Next Stars to Formally Adopt Inclusion Riders
Frances McDormand really set Hollywood’s talking point for the next year when she ended her best-actress acceptance speech at this year’s Oscars with these two words: “inclusion rider.” The actress left the room abuzz, while viewers at home frantically began Googling the phrase—which refers to a contractual stipulation that stars can include in their contracts, assuring that their film sets are inclusive both on and off-screen. On screen, specifically, the goal is to reach at least 50 percent gender parity, with 40 percent inclusion for people of color, 5 percent L.G.B.T.Q. inclusion, and 20 percent disabled inclusion.
If major stars in Hollywood start adapting these riders, they could help to normalize inclusion until the practice actually becomes the norm. Following McDormand’s call to action, Michael B. Jordan got the trend going in earnest, formally announcing that he would be using inclusion riders for all forthcoming projects he produces. And now, his decision has directly inspired a few more big stars: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
On Monday, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni—the head of strategic outreach at Pearl Street Films, Damon and Affleck’s production company—tweeted at Jordan, saying that the company would be following in his footsteps and adopting the rider as well.
“Thank you for always supporting broader representation in the industry,” Cox DiGiovanni tweeted. “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.”
According to her Web site, Cox DiGiovanni is on the board of Project Greenlight Digital Studios, Damon and Affleck’s initiative to support emerging filmmakers. She’s also on the board of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the think tank housed at the University of Southern California that was, conveniently, founded by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, the co-originator of the official inclusion rider.
Unlike their colleague, Damon and Affleck don’t have a sterling track record when it comes to working on inclusive projects on screen. Damon in particular tripped into some hot water during a new season of Project Greenlightin 2015, when he told Dear White People producer Effie Brown that diversity was only needed in front of the camera—not behind it. His remarks quickly went viral, prompting Damon to issue a clarification. In 2016, he was also criticized for playing a white-savior character in the China-set film The Great Wall. Since then, he hasn’t exactly stopped making uncomfortable remarks that get him in trouble—and neither has Affleck. The last few films produced by Pearl Street haven’t exactly been pictures of inclusion; Live by Night and Manchester by the Sea are two recent examples.
But hey, we’re in the post-McDormand-speech world now—and inclusion-rider season is upon us. If Damon and Affleck can adopt this stipulation for their projects moving forward, then anyone can—though the real test will come when we see what kind of films they produce next.
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Best In Show: Hollywood Stars With Canine CompanionsYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.