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Ruth Carter makes history as the first Black woman to take home two Academy Awards

A woman in a yellow dress holds an Oscar
Ruth E. Carter holds the Oscar she won for costume design for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” backstage at the 95th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023, in Hollywood.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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With her win tonight for her work designing the costumes for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” legendary costumer Ruth E. Carter becomes the first Black woman to win two Academy Awards. She also is the first person to win in the category for both an original film and its sequel.

“Wow, nice to see you again,” she began her acceptance speech. “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, Mabel Carter became an ancestor. This film prepared me for this moment. Chadwick, please take care of Mom.”

Carter took home her first statue in 2019, becoming the first Black person to win in the costume design category for “Black Panther.”

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With his 2002 Oscar win for “Training Day,” Denzel Washington made history as the first Black person to win two Oscars, following his 1990 win for “Glory.” Mahershala Ali is the only other Black actor to take home two statues (for “Moonlight” in 2016 and “Green Book” two years later).

The 2023 Oscar winners include “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Brendan Fraser, Michelle Yeoh and “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

March 12, 2023

Earlier on the red carpet, Carter told The Times about her desire to take the “Black Panther” sequel’s costume design and entire look of the film to another level. “Anytime you see a new sequel in superhero films, you see an upgrade in suits. So we upgraded Wakanda. We introduced nine superheroes in this film, we brought in a new culture, the Talokan. We went underwater. The film is very different, and bigger. It was intimidating to bring that into the second film, but we were able to take it one step at a time to do it.”

Backstage in the press room, Carter shared this about her relationship with her mother, who recently died at age 101: “In her final years, I had the same relationship that I always had with her,” she said. “I was the ride-or-die, I was her road dog, I was her sidekick. She always wanted me to follow my dream, even after I graduated college and ... didn’t quite know where I wanted to step next. So I know she’s proud of me. I know that she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself.”

Costume designer Ruth E. Carter lifts Angela Bassett’s status, adapts the Black Panther costume to the female form and adds Mesoamerican culture for the sequel’s looks.

Dec. 19, 2022

Carter has been nominated for four Oscars over the course of her decades-spanning career, including for “Malcolm X” (1992) and “Amistad” (1997).

The other nominees in the category were Catherine Martin (“Elvis”), Mary Zophres (“Babylon”), Jenny Beavan (“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”) and Shirley Kurata (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”).

Times staff writer Amy Wong contributed to this report.

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