Social Navigation

Ruth E. Carter becomes the 1st black woman to win 2 Oscars


Ruth E. Carter made history: the costume designer behind the “Black Panther” films became the first black woman to win two Oscars.

Carter won Best Costume Design on Sunday night at the 95th Academy Awards for Marvel’s sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Carter also won in 2018 for “Black Panther,” making her the first African American to win in the category.

In her acceptance speech, Carter thanked the film’s director Ryan Coogler and asked if ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman could care for his mother, Mabel Carter, who she said died “last week. last”. Boseman died in 2020 of cancer at age 43.

“It’s for my mother. She was 101 years old,” Carter said. “This movie prepared me for this moment. Chadwick, please take care of mom.

Carter then paid tribute to her mother backstage.

“I had a great relationship with her in her later years. The same relationship I always had with her. I was her ride or die. I was her road dog. I was her sidekick,” she said, “I know she’s proud of me. I know she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” grapples with the grief of losing Boseman, his superhero.

Throughout his career, Carter has been behind the scenes in some of Hollywood’s biggest films. She received Oscar nominations for her work in Spike Lee’s ‘Malcolm X’ and Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amistad’ and received praise for her period ensembles in other projects such as Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ , Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” and the reboot of “ROOTS.” She created costumes for Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy and even Jerry Seinfeld for the “Seinfeld” pilot.

Carter played an influential role as the lead costume designer in making “Black Panther” a cultural phenomenon by infusing African Diaspora pride into the character’s stylish and colorful clothing to help bring Wakanda to life. She wanted to transform the presence of Queen Ramonda – played by Oscar nominee Angela Bassett – as queen in the first film into ruler in the sequel.

“Angela has always wanted to play a queen, so to amp it up we added vibranium…we gave her the regal color of purple and adorned her with gold as she wore the crown at the UN” , Carter said. “When she sits on the throne, she wears a gray one-shoulder dress. The exposed shoulder shows her strength – Angela, she has those guns, doesn’t she? »

Carter said she managed to pick up the win against a “tough formation”. She faced creators of “Elvis”, “Mrs. Harris goes to Paris”, “Everything everywhere at the same time” and “Babylon”.

She made her debut in 1988 on Lee’s “School Daze,” the director’s second film. Since then, they have collaborated on more than 10 films, including “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever”. She also worked with Robert Townsend on “The Five Heartbeats” and Keenen Ivory Wayans on “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”.

“I got up out of my bootstraps,” Carter said. “I started in a single parent family. I wanted to be a costume designer. I’ve studied. I scratched. I struggled against adversity in an industry that at times was unlike me. And I endured.”

Thanks to the Oscar-nominated “Malcolm X”, she reached new heights. This film, starring Denzel Washington, propelled her into “Hollywood makeup,” giving her more opportunities to work with directors who had different points of view and storylines.

Carter’s wish is that her historic win on Sunday would provide more opportunities for women of color.

“I hope this opens the door for others…to win an Oscar too,” Carter said.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.