Writing for The Daily Variety, Kristopher Tapley explores how leading actor and producer Michael B. Jordan is leading the charge on diversifying Hollywood with his “inclusion rider,” a formal declaration of diverse hiring practices. Check out an excerpt of the article below:
In September, WarnerMedia established a companywide diversity protocol, which will include annual reports on its progress. It’s the first time a major Hollywood studio has etched such a policy in stone. “Anytime there’s change in any process — and we’re talking about changing the process of how we staff up on a movie or TV show — there’s a natural uncomfortableness,” says Warner Bros. Entertainment chief executive Kevin Tsujihara. “But I think everyone realizes this change is necessary. And it isn’t a feel-good kind of thing. This is actually good business. The status quo is not an option.”
Michael B. Jordan, the first actor-producer to adopt the inclusion rider, a formal declaration of diverse hiring practices, helped WarnerMedia launch its initiative via his upcoming film “Just Mercy.” Inclusion is second nature to Jordan. Ever since he was a child actor, he expected to collaborate with people from all walks of life. When he learned there was an actual contractual clause that he could enlist at his Outlier Society Prods. shingle, it was a no-brainer.
“I think it’s just catching up everybody with the times,” Jordan says. “This is evolution and the right thing to do.”
The promise of change was afoot prior to the March 4 Academy Awards ceremony earlier this year, thanks in large part to movements focused on the lack of diversity (#OscarsSoWhite) and prevailing sexism (#MeToo and Time’s Up). But Frances McDormand lit the fuse when she ended her acceptance speech for lead actress in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” with those two words: inclusion rider. Along with Jordan, several Hollywood figures, including filmmaker Paul Feig and Oscar winners Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Brie Larson, were quick to adopt the clause.
Credit for the inclusion rider’s existence is owed to its three authors: Stacy L. Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California; Kalpana Kotagal, a partner at the law firm Cohen Milstein; and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, head of strategic outreach at Affleck and Damon’s Pearl Street Films. “I don’t think anything is a hurdle any longer in the inclusion and diversity debate,” Smith says. “People’s hearts and minds were changed a long time ago, but they were lacking action.”
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Read the entire article at Variety.com.