UPDATE, with backstage comments: Frances McDormand scored her second Best Actress Oscar tonight, winning for her no-holds-barred portrayal of Mildred Hayes in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The star also brought the Dolby to its feet and stumped for so-called “inclusion riders,” clauses in an actor’s contract that ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movie sets. The hashtag #inclusionrider immediately gained a rousing Twitter following as folks sought a definition, or to provide one, or just to give McDormand a shout-out (see below).
After a brief acceptance speech that began with, “I’m hyperventilating a little bit, so if I fall over, pick me up because I’ve got some things to say,” McDormand asked all of the female nominees across every category in the room to stand. “Meryl, if you do it, everyone will,” she said to fellow Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep, who leapt to her feet in the front row as women rose all around the Dolby.
“Look around everyone, ladies and gentlemen,” McDormand said from the stage. “We all have stories to tell and projects that need to be financed. Don’t talk to us about them at the parties tonight,” she admonished. Rather, wait a couple of days and “invite us to your offices … or you can come to ours.” With that, she concluded, “I have two words to leave you with tonight: inclusion rider.” (See her full speech above.)
Backstage, McDormand expounded on those two words. “I just found out about this last week, but there’s always been something available to us who are negotiating on a film and that’s an inclusion rider. You can ask for it and demand 50% diversity in crew. The whole idea of women not trending. African Americans not trending; it changes now and the inclusion rider has something to do with that.”
See her full backstage comments below.
Ashley Judd had brought up 50-50 gender parity riders at Sundance. It’s something she seeks in her negotiations.
Regarding the positive trend toward inclusion, and the halo of Time’s Up and the #MeToo era, McDormand said that this arc doesn’t end here tonight at the Oscars. “We get to send to the public that we’re a small industry that makes a difference,” said McDormand, citing such great things as the $21M raised for the legal defense fund.
The actress has been on an unstoppable roll ever since she first strutted onto screens as Mildred Hayes at the September Venice Film Festival world premiere of McDonagh’s pitch-black comedic drama Three Billboards. Her other major accolades include the BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe Best Actress prizes as well as Saturday’s Indie Spirit. McDormand previously won the Best Actress Oscar for Fargo in 1997 and has been nominated for three other Oscars, as Best Supporting Actress in Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous and North Country.
McDormand has likened her Three Billboards character to her Fargo personage, saying Mildred Hayes is a grown-up Marge Gunderson. In the film, Mildred makes a bold move after her daughter’s murder: She posts a trio of outdoor signs with controversial messages along the road that leads into her small Southern town. Her target is William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the revered local police chief. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell, a Best Supporting Actor winner tonight), gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement becomes highly charged — even as each character’s humanity shines through.
Along with Streep, McDormand tonight prevailed over Sally Hawkins for The Shape Of Water, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya and Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird.
But she was all about the inclusion.