Featured Photo: Ruth E. Carter speaking at the 2018 WonderCon in Anaheim, California.
The 95th Oscar Awards ceremony brought a pleasant surprise for the Black community. For the first time in the Academy’s history, a Black woman was awarded an Oscar award for the second time. The award went to Ruth Carter for her well-deserved and much-applauded work on costumes and make-up for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
As one of the four most prestigious awards in American film and visual art industry (collectively known as the EGOT awards), the Oscars are awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science in a pompous ceremony held each year since 1929. Nonetheless, only around a dozen women of color have won the Academy award, while only three have won all the four EGOT awards (with the latest addition being Viola Davis in 2023). Furthermore, only four Black artists in total have successfully received more than one Oscar award: Actors Denzel Washington and Mahershala Ali and sound mixers Willie D. Burton and Russell Williams II, all male.
Therefore, there was much to celebrate on Monday when Ruth E. Carter joined the camp as its first Black female entry. The 62-year-old was the youngest of eight children, but her ambition brought her to Hollywood at a young age, where she has been active since the 1980s. Carter had previously been nominated for an Oscar for her contribution to Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992) and again for her role in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997), but both of her initial bids failed.
Carter’s decades-long efforts bore fruit in 2019, when her well-deserved work on the record-grossing film Black Panther (2018), directed by Ryan Coogler, was recognized at the Academy Awards that year. With her Costume Design award, Carter became the first Black person to win in that category.
Four years on, Carter cleared a field of fierce competition to successfully win her second Oscar award in the same category for the sequent Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). When accepting the award, Carter thanked the young film director Ryan Coogler, and asked the Black Panther lead protagonist Chadwick Boseman to look after her mother. Boseman passed away after a brave and patient battle with colon cancer in 2020.
Backstage, Carter explained in detail that her mother had passed away last week at age 101. She reflected on her ‘great relationship’ with her mother, saying: “I know she’s proud of me. I know that she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself.”
Carter also briefly discussed her early life and career. As the daughter of a single parent, she says: “I pulled myself up from my bootstraps.” She recalled the occasional ‘adversity’ that she had to endure in Hollywood, and elaborated on the philosophy behind Black Panther.