Ruth E. Carter Makes Oscar History

Feb 27, 2019 | Awards, Latest News

by Denise Petski | Deadline Hollywood

“Wow, wow.. I got it. Wow, this has been a long time coming. Spike Lee, thank you for my start. I hope this makes you proud!,” exclaimed a jubilant Ruth E. Carter. “Marvel may have made the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king, declared Carter as she accepted her first Oscar for best costume design for Black Panther.

With the win, Carter also made Oscar history, becoming the first African American woman to receive the best costume design Academy Award. This is her third nomination, having previously received noms for her work in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X.

During an earlier interview with Deadline, Carter noted some 1500 costumers were crafted and sourced for the project. For a film that moves between a fictional African kingdom, South Korea and the United States, she sent shoppers out to South Africa and Ghana, had outfits made in South Korea and Busan, and had embroidery done in Thailand. “We went around the world,” she says. “We really, actually bought from the source.” In early conversations with director Ryan Coogler and Marvel’s Nate Moore, the conversation was “about Afrofuturism, about how we grew up and what our lives were like, as far as how it fit within the consciousness of African Diaspora,” Carter shared.

Black Panther is nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture. The film also won tonight for best production design.

Carter bested fellow best costume design nominees, Mary Zophres for The Ballad Buster Scruggs (Netflix), Sandy Powell for both The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) and Mary Poppins Returns (Disney), and Alexandra Byrne for Mary Queen of Scots (Focus Features).