Ruth E. Carter is stitching her way into the history books.
On Sunday (March 12), costume designer Ruth E. Carter became the first Black woman to win two Oscars. She won her second Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In 2019, she became the first black woman to win an Oscar for the same category for her work in the Black Panther (2018) film.
In her acceptance speech, Carter thanked the film’s director Ryan Coogler and asked if Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman could look after her mother, Mabel Carter, who she said died “this past week.” Boseman died in 2020 of cancer at 43.
“This is for my mother. She was 101,” Carter said. “This film prepared me for this moment. Chadwick, please take care of mom.”
Though she is only recently winning Academy Awards, Carter has been recognized for her costume designs for nearly thirty years. She was nominated for Best Costume Design for her work in Amistad in 1998 and Malcom X in 1993.
Carter’s meticulous eye gives dimensionality, flair, and culture to the characters she envisions. The hidden gem behind Hollywood’s beloved films, she created the ensembles for Being Mary Jane, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, Baby Boy, and B*A*P*S to name a few.
Carter played an essential role in making the Black Panther blockbuster a cultural phenomenon. Her ability to infuse African styles from the diaspora helped bring Wakanda to life.
Carter’s wish is that her historic win will offer more opportunities to women of color.
“I hope this opens the door for others … that they can win an Oscar, too,” Carter said.