Michael B. Jordan Pledges to Employ Inclusion Rider for All Projects

By Sameer Rao Mar 08, 2018

"Black Panther" star Michael B. Jordan announced via Instagram yesterday (March 7) that he will attach an inclusion rider to all future projects with his production company, Outlier Society: 

"I’ve been privileged to work with powerful woman [sic] and persons of color throughout my career," Jordan wrote in the caption to a photo that includes Outlier production head Alana Mayo and his agent Phil Sun. "It’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward."  

The caption also pointed to a link in in his Instagram page biography, which leads to the website for the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California. The initiative conducts research about diversity and equity in the entertainment industry. Its director and founder, communications scholar Stacy L. Smith, first outlined the rider in a 2014 op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter. She wrote that the rider, if advanced by A-list actors and gatekeepers, would make creating opportunities for marginalized groups a key part of any film or television production:

What if A-list actors amended every contract with an equity rider? The clause would state that tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it’s sensible for the plot. If notable actors working across 25 top films in 2013 had made this change to their contracts, the proportion of balanced films (about half-female) would have jumped from 16 percent to 41 percent. Imagine the possibilities if a few actors exercised their power contractually on behalf of women and girls. It wouldn’t necessarily mean more lead roles for females, but it would create a diverse onscreen demography reflecting a population comprised of 50 percent women and girls.

She elaborated on this concept and used the term "inclusion rider" in a 2016 TED Talk:

A-listers, as we all know, can make demands in their contracts, particularly the ones that work on the biggest Hollywood films. What if those A-listers simply added an equity clause or inclusion rider into their contracts? Now, what does that mean? Well, you probably don’t know, but the typical feature film has about 40-45 speaking characters in it. I would argue that only eight to 10 of those characters are actually relevant to the story, except maybe in "The Avengers." The remaining 30 or so roles, there’s no reason why those minor roles can’t match or reflect the demography of where the story is taking place. An equity rider, by an A-lister in their contract, can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live. Now, there’s no reason why a network, a studio or a production company cannot adopt the same contractual language in their negotiation processes. 

The concept gained public attention after actress Frances McDormand ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri") mentioned it in her speech after winning Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday (March 4).