First Black Woman To Receive Two Oscars Is A Massachusetts Costume Designer

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First Black Woman To Receive Two Oscars Is A Massachusetts Costume Designer

Ruth E. Carter, a Springfield, Massachusetts, resident, created history on Sunday night at the Oscars.  The "Black Panther" movie's costume d

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Ruth E. Carter, a Springfield, Massachusetts, resident, created history on Sunday night at the Oscars. 

The “Black Panther” movie’s costume designer made history by becoming the first Black woman to receive two Oscars.

At the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday night, Carter won best costume design for the Marvel movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” 2018 saw Carter win again for “Black Panther,” making her the first African American to do so.

Carter praised “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman in her acceptance speech and requested his help caring for her mother, Mabel Carter, who had passed away “this past week,” Carter said. Boseman, 43, passed away from cancer in 2020.

“This is for my mother. She was 101,” Carter stated. “This film prepared me for this moment. Chadwick, please take care of mom.”

Backstage, Carter then paid her mother an homage.

“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,” she said. “I know she’s proud of me. I know that she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself.”

Throughout her tenure, Carter has worked behind the scenes on some of the biggest movies in Hollywood. She has been praised for her period ensembles in other films like Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” and the reboot of “ROOTS” in addition to earning Oscar nominations for her roles in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.” Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, and even Jerry Seinfeld’s “Seinfeld” pilot all had outfits designed by her.

Carter’s work as the film’s main costume designer helped “Black Panther” become a cultural phenomenon by bringing Wakanda to life through the character’s fashionable and vibrant clothing. She wished to change Queen Ramonda, who was portrayed by Academy Award candidate Angela Bassett in the first movie, from being a queen to a ruler in the follow-up.

“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,” Carter said. “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 claimed that despite playing against a “tough lineup,” she managed to prevail. The artists from “Elvis,” “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and “Babylon” were among those she competed against.

She began working with Lee on “School Daze,” the second movie he directed, in 1988. Since then, they have worked together on more than 10 movies, including “Jungle Fever” and “Do the Right Thing.” Additionally, she collaborated with Keenen Ivory Wayans and Robert Townsend on “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and “The Five Heartbeats,” respectively.

“I pulled myself up from my bootstraps,” Carter stated. “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 attained new heights thanks to the “Malcolm X,” which received an Academy nomination. She was thrust into “Hollywood makeup” by that Denzel Washington-starring movie, which gave her more chances to collaborate with directors who had various points of view and different scripts. 

Carter hopes that more women of color will have chances thanks to her historic victory on Sunday.

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