When Frances McDormand talked about inclusion riders and equality behind the film scenes during her Oscar acceptance speech earlier this year, Michael B. Jordan was the first actor to announce he and his production company Outlier Society would utilize inclusion riders going forward. Fast forward to September, when WarnerMedia has announced a new inclusion policy with Jordan’s film Just Mercy being the first under the new rules.
“For our part, WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry,” the company wrote in a press release statement. “To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress.”
“The companies of WarnerMedia have a historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion,” the company wrote. “But there is much more we can do, and we believe real progress can be made in the industry. We will work with our partners in the entertainment community to make this commitment a reality.”
In the press release, Jordan praised the move by WarnerMedia with the following statement:
“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business. The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward. I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”
He also posted a similar message on Instagram with a photo of him behind the scenes on the set of Just Mercy. “I applaud [WarnerMedia] for taking this enormous step forward and I’m proud that our film, Just Mercy – which begins production today – will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is just the beginning…” he wrote.
Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. Earlier this year I formally pledged my production company, Outlier Society, to this way of doing business. And today, the @warnermediagrp family has announced a new policy that accomplishes our shared objectives. I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward and I’m proud that our film, Just Mercy, — which begins production today — will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is just the beginning…
Both Warner Bros. Chairman/CEO Kevin Tsujihara and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey applaud the new policy in the press release.
“The core values of the WarnerMedia companies are built on doing innovative work in a manner that respects our creative partners, their aspirations and their individuality,” said Stankey. “I am proud of the progress that the leaders of our businesses have made, and we believe this is the next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”
“I’m proud that Warner Bros. and our sister companies, HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion. Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” said Tsujihara. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”
Just Mercy, which is currently filming in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery, AL, stars Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, activist and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative located in Montgomery. The film also stars Brie Larson, Jamie Foxx, Afre Woodard, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Lindsay Ayliffe, C.J. LeBlanc and Ron Clinton Smith and is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film will be in theaters Jan. 17, 2020.