The talent of costume designer and Oscar winner Ruth Carter is undeniable. Her work for Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is stunning. Although the film didn’t earn a Best Picture or Best Director nomination for Ryan Coogler, the impact the film has made globally and now, streaming on Disney+, can’t be denied. Facts are facts, and data is data.
On the award circuit, Carter—already an Oscar winner for “Black Panther” in 2019—seems to be the favorite to snag another statue in 2023. Her jaw-dropping creations after her Critics Choice win are among the indicators that she just might become the first African American woman to win more than one statuette in any category.
That raises an interesting question. Just how many other artists have multiple Oscars? In the 95-year history in which more than 3,100 Oscar statuettes have been handed out (gulp), only 18 were awarded to African American women to date.
As this is a world geared toward men, it’s no surprise that African American men have won more than one Oscar. Those actors include Russell Williams II (“Glory” and “Dances with Wolves”), Denzel Washington (“Glory” and “Training Day”), Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight” and “Green Book”), and sound mixer Willie D. Burton (“Bird” and “Dreamgirls”).
The second question is, who’s Carter’s real competition? Insiders say the person she has to beat is Catherine Martin, the most-nominated woman this year, for her work on “Elvis.” Martin’s past wins include “The Great Gatsby” (2013) and “Moulin Rouge!” (2001).
Carter was nominated twice, for her work on “Amistad” (1997) and “Malcolm X” (1992), before her win in 2019. As a costume designer, she has worked on more than 60 film and television projects. She understands how to develop character and combine her nuanced use of color and texture. She is without question an essential storyteller, firmly committed to sharing the past, present, and future of Black culture.
In 1988, Oscar winner and film legend Spike Lee recruited Carter to design the costumes for his film “School Daze,” and she has worked with him on 14 films since then and has designed for many other directors, including Lee Daniels, Ava DuVernay, John Singleton, and Steven Spielberg. In 2019, Carter was the subject of an episode of “Abstract,” a Netflix documentary series highlighting artists working in the field of design. The same year, she was honored by the Costume Designers Guild with a Career Achievement Award and by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science with the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.To learn even more about Ruth E. Carter, click here.