Frances McDormand has never been one to conform to Hollywood’s expectations. So when she won the Oscar for Best Actress at yesterday’s ceremony, it was no surprise she used her acceptance speech to address the women’s movement.
In her unabashedly bold and quirky nature, the 60-year-old actress began her speech by saying: “If I fall over, pick me up, because I’ve got some things to say.” After thanking director Martin McDonagh and her costars (“We are a bunch of hooligans and anarchists, but we do clean up nice”), McDormand addressed her husband, Joel Coen, and their son, Pedro. “These two stalwart individuals were well raised by their feminist mothers. They value each other, themselves, and those around them”, she said.
But it was McDormand’s next move that cemented her speech in Oscar history. “If I may be so honoured to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight, the actors – Meryl, if you do it, everybody else will – the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the songwriters, the designers”.
As the crowd cheered, McDormand asked everybody to look around. “Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight”, she said. “Invite us into your office in a couple days, or you can come to ours—whichever suits you best—and we’ll tell you all about them.”
She concluded with: “I have two words to leave you with tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.” An “inclusion rider” is a clause that an actor can insist is put in their contract which requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity. McDormand’s speech not only united the women in the crowd, it highlighted their talent and placed a spotlight on the need for real, lasting change in the entertainment industry.