Accomplished Hollywood costume designer Ruth E. Carter has become the first Black woman in history to win two Academy Awards. She took home the victory tonight (March 12) for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, where she brought the vision of the fantastical Marvel worlds of Wakanda and Talokan to life on screen. She won her first Oscar back in 2019 for leading costuming in the first Black Panther movie.
In her acceptance speech, the sartorial visionary thanked director Ryan Coogler and paid tribute to her mother, who died recently at 101, by invoking the name of late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
“Nice to see you again,” Carter told the applauding crowd as she took the stage with her gold statuette. “Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the superhero that is a Black woman. She endures, she loves, she overcomes, she is every woman in this film. She is my mother. This past week, Mable Carter became an ancestor. This film prepared me for this moment.”
“Chadwick, please take care of mom,” she continued. “Ryan Coogler, Nate Moore, thank you both for your vision. Together, we are reshaping how culture is represented… I share this with many dedicated artists whose hands and hearts helped manifest the costumes of Wakanda and Talokan. This is for my mother.”
Carter’s win makes her the third Black person with two Oscars to their name. Denzel Washington made history in 2002 when he won his second Oscar for Training Day. Mahershala Ali earned trophies for 2016’s Moonlight and 2018’s Green Book. And while recently christened EGOT winner Viola Davis has had four Oscar nominations over the years, she’s only won once for 2016’s Fences.
Getting to make the looks of Wakanda was one of the biggest challenges of Carter’s career. “We put it underwater, and everything just went up. I had to remake things that were tested. I had to weigh them down, and sometimes they were too light, and other times they were too heavy,” she told Variety of the process.
The two-time honoree has gotten four Oscar nods in total over the years, including for 1992’s Malcolm X and 1997’s Amistad. She’s also worked on films such as Selma and the iconic Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It, where she recreated the “Proud Mary” singer’s most recognizable looks from the ’70s and ’80s for film star Angela Bassett.