Matt Damon Discusses His Decision to Implement Inclusion Riders

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Matt Damon. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, the head of strategic outreach for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Pearl Street Films, announced the production company’s decision to adopt inclusion riders on all their upcoming projects. Inclusion riders, if you’ll remember from Frances McDormand’s Oscar shout-out, are a contractual measure designed to ensure gender and racial equity on film productions. A similar commitment was made recently by Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society, and Matt Damon discussed his company’s decision today with The Hollywood Reporter. “There have been a lot of back channel conversations that have been going on,” the actor explained. “I would say most of the people I know are activated around this and talking about this. There’s no reason our industry shouldn’t look like our country demographically.”

The concept was developed back in 2014 by Stacy Smith, the director of USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, and according to Damon, it was DiGiovanni who brought it to Pearl Street’s attention and stressed the impact their use of riders could have on the industry. “We hired Fanshen a few years ago with issues of inclusion because we needed to do better,” said Damon. “And she brought us the Annenberg study that was done out of USC, which was just the data collection on the real numbers industry-wide. And they were horrible. It was alarming and embarrassing. So she kind of challenged us with that.”

Damon, who THR says sees inclusion riders “being implemented on a case-by-case basis,” seems optimistic that riders will help bring the industry to a point at which it organically incorporates the wide breadth of talented individuals working in Hollywood. “Hopefully, if you can use it as a tool to combat implicit bias, when Dr. Smith does her study again, we’ll see better inclusion in Hollywood. That’s the hope,” Damon said. “The rider itself is not the point. That’s the means to the end. The point is inclusion and hopefully this is the tool that can get us there.”

Matt Damon Discusses Decision to Implement Inclusion Riders