Ruth Carter hopes the Oscars will inspire more black costume designers

“I think this win opens the door for other costume designers who might not think this industry is for them,” Carter said backstage after winning her second Oscar.

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

Speaking to the press after winning his second Academy Award, Carter spoke of his passion for costume design and his continued commitment to making sure his 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 the supporting characters, I like to dress the actors in a costume that they want to perform in and in which they feel good. I never try to push the storytelling into the background.”

The conversation eventually turned to Carter’s success as a woman of color in an overwhelmingly white industry. Her 2019 Oscars marked the first time a black woman won an award for costume design, and her second win is a reminder that black women winning this award could definitely be a regular occurrence. Carter expressed his gratitude for the success he has enjoyed, but made it clear that he has to fight hard for everything he has achieved.

“I pulled myself out of my bootstraps,” he said. “I learned, I scraped by, I fought adversity in an industry that is not like me. I endured.”

At the end of the day, Carter says she hopes her success can help make it easier for the next generation of minority costume designers to get to the Oscars than she did. When asked about the historical significance of his victories, he expressed his hope that prospective buyers will see him as living proof that anything is possible.

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

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