Frances McDormand on Inclusion Riders: "I Have This Feeling in My Gut That Times Are Changing"

Frances McDormand WIF Awards - Getty - H 2018
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Women In Film

In her first onstage moment since winning the best actress Oscar, she brought up the topic again while presenting an award to Dr. Stacy Smith and leaders of the gender parity movement at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards.

It may have seemed as if Frances McDormand had carefully planned to work "inclusion rider" into her best actress acceptance speech on Oscar night. But Wednesday night at the Women in Film's Crystal + Lucy Awards inside the Beverly Hilton, McDormand revealed that the exclamation point on her speech — "I have two words for you: inclusion rider" — just kind of came out of her mouth during an inspired moment looking out from the Dolby Theatre stage at her fellow female nominees.

McDormand did what actors do sometimes — she improvised even if she was, admittedly, a bit "flustered." 

“I’m here to take responsibility for my actions and restate a call to action," said McDormand, who helped deliver one of Wednesday night's most powerful moments by presenting a special segment dedicated to "45 Years of Advocacy," honoring the co-author of the inclusion rider, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, and the leaders of the gender parity movement. “I have this feeling in my gut that times are changing.”

It was her backside, though, that got a bit of attention onstage when she displayed a red sticker with the words "inclusion rider" and walked around stage with it covering her rear because "every revolution needs really good merch." And every revolution needs someone to spread the information: McDormand credited UTA partner Blair Kohan for mentioning inclusion riders to her two nights before the Oscars. 

“I have been vaguely aware of and completely intrigued by the series of USC Annenberg studies on gender parity in film and television, which were commissioned by Women in Film and the Sundance Institute, but I didn’t know that the author of the studies had taken the next step and created an actual working legal tool," she said. “If I may use a sporting metaphor: If you want to go fast, go it alone, if you want to go far, do it together. ... Can we successfully legislate morality? Perhaps not. But we can ask our better selves to go forward together, to take us farther than we have gone before.”

In her remarks, Smith, who co-wrote the language with Kalpana Kotagal and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, detailed how her life and research changed in the hours and days following McDormand's Oscar speech. “It’s because of women that we’re in this transformative moment," she said. "We have identified our common purpose. This time, it’s not two words, it’s one: hiring.” 

Her advice? "Support women. Champion women. And unequivocally, tomorrow, start hiring women.”

The Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards — presented by Max Mara, Lancome and Lexus — have since 1977 honored women in the entertainment industry. This year’s event, at the Beverly Hilton, also honored actresses Brie Larson and Alexandra Shipp, ABC president Channing Dungey, music producers NOVA Wav and the women (both in front of and behind the camera) of Black Panther.