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Ruth E. Carter made history on Sunday night at the 95th Academy Awards, becoming the first Black woman to receive two Oscars in costume design for her work on Marvel’s “Black Panther” films – an inspiring milestone that will undoubtedly pave a brighter path forward for other women of color working behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. Carter received her first Oscar in 2018.
In her heartfelt acceptance speech, Carter thanked film director Ryan Coogler and made a touching plea to Chadwick Boseman – star of the eponymous King T’Challa – that he take care of her late mother Mabel, who had passed away just the week prior to the 95th Academy Awards. The death of Boseman in 2020 due to cancer at 43 has left an indelible mark on Hollywood’s legacy.
“This is for my mother. She was 101,” she said. “This film prepared me for this moment. Chadwick, please take care of mom.”
Her mother was then honored backstage by Carter.
“I had a great relationship with her in her final years. The same relationship I always had with her. I was her ride-or-die. I was her road dog. I was her sidekick,” Carter said.
“I know she’s proud of me. I know that she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself.”
In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Chadwick Boseman‘s loss created an emotional challenge for the film – how to grapple with a hero no longer around. The journey through grief served as both a tribute and reminder that heroes never truly die, but live on forever in our hearts.
At the Academy Awards, Chadwick Boseman received an incredible tribute from Grammy-winner Rhianna in recognition of his extraordinary talent and legacy — performing “Lift Me Up” from the “Wakanda Forever” flim.
Ruth E. Carter is one of the most prolific and sought-after costume designers in Hollywood’s history, having created iconic looks for Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy and Jerry Seinfeld, to name a few – not to mention her multitude of Oscar nominations from Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” up until Ava DuVernay’s recent hit drama “Selma.” Her ability to bring out individual personalities through clothing has resulted in some unforgettable performances throughout the decades.
By her creative genius and masterful craftsmanship, Carter was instrumental to the success of Marvel’s “Black Panther” franchise. She gracefully imbued iconic characters with stunningly stylish threads infused in African diasporic pride – a feat exemplified by Queen Ramonda’s beloved transformation from queen to ruler seen across both films.
“Angela always wanted to play a queen, so to amplify her, we added vibranium. We gave her the royal color of purple and adorned her in gold as she wore the crown at the UN,” she explained. “When she sits on the throne, she’s in a gray one-shouldered dress. The exposed shoulder shows her strength — Angela, she got those guns, right?”
Carter achieved victory against a formidable roster of opponents, including designers from four acclaimed productions: “Elvis,” “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and the critically-acclaimed feature film, “Babylon.”
Ruth E. Carter began her career in 1988 on Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” a launching pad for an acclaimed collaborative relationship between the two. In their over 30-year partnership, they have worked together to produce films such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.” Not stopping there, she has also partnered with Robert Townsend (“The Five Heartbeats”) and Keenen Ivory Wayans (“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”), furthering her formidable presence in cinema history.
“I pulled myself up from my bootstraps. I started in a single-parent household. I wanted to be a costume designer. I studied. I scraped. I struggled with adversity in an industry that sometimes didn’t look like me. And I endured,’ she shared.
Spike Lee’s Academy Award-nominated “Malcolm X” marked a pivotal moment in her career. After Denzel Washington elevated the title role to blockbuster success, Ruth E. Carter found herself with renewed access and opportunities within Hollywood – aligning behind various directors’ artistic visions for diverse stories from across genres.
“I hope this opens the door for others … that they can win an Oscar, too,” Carter conveyed.
Ruth E. Carter has opened a door of opportunity by becoming the first African American to win an Oscar for costume design, bringing much-deserved attention and possibility for women of color in what can be considered historically a predominantly white field.