Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are the latest Hollywood power-players to embrace inclusion riders, the diversity-promoting clauses recently thrust into the national spotlight by actress Frances McDormand, who championed them in her Academy Awards acceptance speech earlier this month.
Pearl Street Films, the production company founded by Affleck and Damon in 2012, announced on Monday evening that all of the company’s future projects will include inclusion riders, which are contractual clauses that insist on gender and racial diversity in the hiring of cast and crew on Hollywood projects. Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Pearl Street’s head of strategic outreach, announced the company’s decision in a tweet that also made reference to actor Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther), whose own production company also adopted inclusion riders for its projects in the past week.
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As Fortune has noted previously, the idea for an inclusion rider started with Stacy Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, who has touted the concept as a way to promote diversity both onscreen and in more under-the-radar film production roles (from cinematographers to assistant directors, etc.). McDormand, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, helped spread the idea by mentioning it in her acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards two weeks ago. “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen, inclusion rider,” she said.
(For what it’s worth, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay said recently that she didn’t need inclusion riders on that film, and that she simply hired “great people of all kinds and colors.” However, that’s not always the case with big Hollywood films, especially movies that aren’t directed by the first-ever African-American women to helm a movie with a $100 million budget.)
The nascent embrace of an idea like inclusion riders comes at a time when Hollywood continues to grapple with a poor track record of diversity overall, as well as the recent #MeToo movement and the backlash against sexual harassment and assault in the industry. A few years ago, Damon apologized after he was criticized for comments he made about diversity in Hollywood, and both Damon and Affleck received a fair amount of criticism last year over their longtime association with disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.