Annenberg Inclusion Initiative


The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is the leading think tank in the world studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment through original research and sponsored projects. Beyond research, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative develops targeted, research-based solutions to tackle inequality. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative works in three major areas:

RESEARCH: Uses data-driven and theory-based research to offer insight and evidence to industries on where diversity is needed and how to achieve it

ADVOCACY: Exists to foster inclusion and give a voice to disenfranchised or marginalized groups

ACTION: Offers simple actions for complex solutions to facilitate social change at the student, industry, and societal level

Contact us

For more information and updates on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, visit us: You can also reach out to us at

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Accelerator Programs

Less than 2% of top-grossing film directors are women of color, yet films by women of color earn the highest critical reviews. The ongoing disparities facing women of color as directors demand action. Thus, Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative are launching the AII Accelerator. This is the first program from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to directly support filmmakers and to bolster the pipeline for young creatives.

The Reproductive Rights Accelerator, announced August 17, will support a minimum of 4 rising senior film students who have a story to tell about reproductive rights. The award offers a $25,000 stipend, funded by several members of Women Moving Millions, for the production and development of a short film focused on reproductive health. Learn more and apply here

The Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award, announced July 14, will support a rising senior film student at a Southern California-based film school working on unscripted content who has a particular interest in short-form mobile storytelling. This award offers a $25,000 stipend. The recipient will receive regular advisement and mentorship from the Snap team, as well as shadow a Snap Original production, and have the opportunity to pitch a short-form series to Snap. Use the link below to learn more and apply.

The AI2 Accelerator, re-opened to January 31st, 2023, is designed to support a rising senior film student at a Southern California-based film school who wants to tell large-scale scripted stories (comic book, VFX-driven, etc.) and make an impact on the industry. The award provides the recipient with $25,000 and includes meetings with industry advisors to support the recipient’s career goals. Use the link below to learn more and apply.

Project advisors for the AI2 Accelerator include:

  • Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group
  • Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios
  • Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios
  • Alicia Keys, Artist
  • Jody Gerson, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group
  • Halle Berry, Academy Award-winning actor, producer and director
  • Melina Matsoukas, DGA Award- and Grammy Award-winning director
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award-winning director and producer
  • J. J. Abrams and Katie McGrath, Co-CEOs, Bad Robot
  • Lindsay Galin, Co-President of Talent, Rogers and Cowan PMK
  • Phillip Sun, Co-Founder, President, and Managing Director, M88
  • Maha Dakhil, Co-Head, Motion Picture Group, Co-Head, International Film Group, Board Member, Creative Artists Agency
  • Brenda Robinson, Co-Founder, Gamechanger Films, Board Chair Film Independent
  • Jay Shetty, #1 NY Times best-selling author, Purpose Coach

Use the link below to learn more and to apply for the Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award or the AI2 Accelerator.

The Inclusion Rider: Legal language for ending Hollywood’s epidemic of invisibility

Across the 100 top-grossing films of 2016, 47 did not feature a single Black woman or girl speaking on screen, 66 movies were devoid of Asian female characters, and a full 72 films erased Latinas. Very few females from the LGBT community, native and indigenous females, Middle Eastern females, or female characters with disabilities are seen in our cinematic stories. More generally, the percentage of females on screen in film has not moved in decades. It’s time to change these statistics. The inclusion rider was created to do just that. The inclusion rider is an addendum to an actor/content creator’s contract that stipulates that stories and storytellers should look like the world we actually live in — not a small fraction of the talent pool. It does this while also protecting story sovereignty.

The purpose of the inclusion rider is to counter bias in interviewing/auditioning and hiring/casting in specific employment positions in the entertainment industry. The rider is a template and living document, not something to be cut and pasted into a contract. The details of its implementation are crucial to its success. The rider is a flexible and adaptable framework that actors/content creators should consider together with counsel prior to signing on to their next project. The inclusion rider does not provide for quotas. It simply stipulates consideration of the deep bench of talented professionals from historically underrepresented groups and strongly encourages hiring and casting of qualified individuals from under-represented backgrounds. We believe that this language is a necessary first step to eradicate inequality experienced for years on screen and behind the camera.

In the spirit of inclusion, Dr. Stacy L. Smith of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Kalpana Kotagal of Cohen Milstein, and Fanshen Cox of Pearl Street Films are sharing the template and hope it will be an important tool in achieving change. Read more about the origin of the “inclusion rider” and use the link below to see the original language.


Stacy Smith-video-aiipage

Stacy Smith: The data behind Hollywood's sexism

In October 2016, Stacy L. Smith, the Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, delivered a powerful TED Talk on the prevalence and portrayal of female characters in film. Most importantly, she shared her data-driven solutions to the problem. Watch now!

Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Stacy L. Smith, PhD

Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California where she is also an Associate Professor. Smith’s work examines gender, race, LGBT status, disability, and age on screen and gender and race/ethnicity behind the camera in cinematic content as well as barriers and opportunities facing women and people of color in the entertainment industry. She also conducts economic analyses related to diversity and the financial performance of films. Smith is a world leader, with speaking engagements ranging from the TED Women stage to the United Nations. Her research sets the global standard for data on employment diversity in entertainment, and she is a trusted source to the entertainment industry. Smith’s work is cited widely by both corporate and educational audiences. Smith has written more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on content patterns and effects of the media. In 2015, LA Weekly named  Smith the #1 Most Influential Person in Los Angeles. You can read more about Smith’s work and accomplishments in her full bio.

AII Team

Program Director

Photo of Carmen Lee

Affiliated Faculty

Program Manager

Ashley Kolaya

Lead Impact Engagement Officer

Photo of Al-Baab Khan

Program Manager

Photo of Brooke Kong

UX Designer

Project Assistant

Photo of Karla Hernandez
Karla Hernandez

Project Specialist

Photo of Katherine Neff

Project Specialist

Matthew Davis headshot

Program Specialist

Data Management Coordinator

Headshot of Sarah Neff.

Content Strategist

Project Assistant

Photo of Zoe Moore

Project Specialist

Headshot of Zoily Mercado

Project Assistant


Research and advocacy at this level involves multiple stakeholders. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is grateful to our existing sponsors and partners, including The David & Lura Lovell Foundation, Mari and Manuel Alba, Bonnie Arnold, Ann Erickson and Richard Pellett, Beth Friedman, Suzanne Lerner, Valley Fund for the Advancement of Women and Girls at the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and Ann Lovell, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Barbara Bridges. Support is also provided by The Tides Foundation on the recommendation of Ms. Julie Parker Benello. Interested in supporting the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative? Please contact us for more information or click here to donate.

Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Media Mentions

Time's Up Turns a Page: Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson and USC's Stacy Smith on a "Very Simple Formula to Create Change"

Inclusion strategies have sprung up aplenty, but how to really move the needle? 

Study shows ongoing “inclusion crisis” in film industry

The newest study from AII examines inequality in the film industry

APNewsBreak: Study Says Films Exclude Women, Hispanics

Women, Hispanics and people with disabilities are among the most underrepresented groups

Study Finds 80 Percent of Female Directors Made Only One Movie in 10 Years

AII reports that just 8.1 percent of Hollywood’s helmers over the past decade were black or Asian

Lights, Camera, Taking Action

On many fronts, women are fighting for better opportunity in Hollywood