Francest McDormand took home the Oscar for Best Actress at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday and used her acceptance speech to call for genuine progress for female actors.
McDormand won the award for her starring role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film about a local mother challenging a racist sheriff to investigate her daughter’s murder. In her acceptance speech she started with the usual round of thanks, but then the actress put down her Oscar (literally, on the floor) and called for all of the night’s female nominees in every category to stand up! McDormand then asked the industry’s influential men—directors, agents, producers—in the audience to set up meeting with the awesome women in attendance. She ended her speech with a call for inclusion riders—an addition to a contract that stars can use to demand gender parity or equal pay.
This was a powerful statement from an actress in a powerful film about racism, violence, and taking a stand in Ebbing, Missouri. McDormand’s speech is a sad reminder that Oscar gold doesn’t always translate to simple things like more gigs or even equal pay. Leading nominees, the best actresses in Hollywood, can still find themselves making significantly less than their male coworkers due to the fact that a relatively small number of men run the industry as a whole. Inclusion riders are one easy way for power players to take their own stand in Los Angles, California.