Ruth E. Carter Wants to Inspire More Minority Costumers: ‘Hopefully They’ll Think They Can Win an Oscar Too’

Four years after winning an Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on “Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter picked up another Academy Award on Sunday night for the second entry in Ryan Coogler’s Marvel franchise. Her work on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was bigger and bolder in almost every way, dazzling audiences with her depictions of Wakandan funeral attire and the underwater kingdom of Talokan.

Speaking to the press after winning her second Oscar, Carter opened up about her passion for costume design and her ongoing commitment to ensuring that her work supports great storytelling without overpowering it.

“It’s about storytelling,” Carter said. “You don’t want to distract, you want to support. I enjoy supporting actors, I enjoy sheparding actors to set in a costume they want to perform in, that they feel good in. I’m never trying to overshadow the storytelling.”

The conversation eventually turned to Carter’s success as a woman of color in an extremely white industry. Her 2019 Oscar win marked the first time that a Black woman had won an award for costume design, and her second win is a reminder that Black women winning the award can absolutely be a regular occurrence. Carter expressed gratitude for all of the success she has enjoyed, but made it clear that she had to fight hard for everything she’s achieved.

“I pulled myself up from my bootstraps,” she said. “I studied, I scraped, I dealt with adversity in an industry that didn’t look like me. I endured.”

At the end of the day, Carter says that she hopes her success can help ensure that the next generation of minority costume designers has an easier road to the Oscars than she did. When asked about the historical significance of her wins, she expressed her hope that aspiring costumers will see her as a living proof that anything is possible.

“I think this win opens the door for other costume designers who may not think that this industry is for them,” she said. “And hopefully they’ll see me and they’ll see my story and they’ll think maybe they can win an Oscar too.”

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