Ruth E. Carter helps Hollywood highlight our history like no one else
Check out our exclusive interview with the history-making costume designer
Ruth E. Carter is an American costume designer, an artist, and a trailblazer whose work has helped Hollywood highlight our history for more than three decades.
Throughout her career, she has profoundly influenced how we see ourselves, capturing entire eras, immortalizing moments in time, and truly defining what we look like onscreen.
This week, she made history again when it was announced that she would be the first Black costume designer to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born April 10, 1960, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Ruth E. Carter graduated from Hampton University before working at the Santa Fe Opera, later moving to Los Angeles in 1986, where she worked at Los Angeles Theater Center. There, she met Spike Lee, who hired her to work on his second film, School Daze, in 1988.
Carter worked with the award-winning director on his other titles like Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and Mo’ Betta Blues before going to work on some of the most iconic films of our time.
She transformed Denzel Washington into Malcolm X in 1992 and took us back to the sixties to help Angela Bassett pull off her transformation into Tina Turner in the 1993 film, What’s Love Got To Do With It. She turned David Oleyowo into Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s Selma and helped Chadwick Boseman become Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall.
Her work on Malcolm X earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, making her the first Black woman ever to be nominated in that category. She earned another nomination in 1997 for Steven Spielberg’s harrowing depiction of the slave trade, Amistad.
Then, in 2018, Carter took us all on a journey we never imagined, tracing our roots back to the motherland and stretching our imaginations farther than they had ever been to the wondrous world of Wakanda, with her Oscar-winning work on Black Panther.
With that game-changing project, she made history again as the first Black woman to win the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and brought home the first-ever Oscar win for a Marvel film.
Next, she’s taking us back to Zamunda in the highly-anticipated sequel, Coming 2 America.
When we think of the most important, the most impactful, and the most resonant films of our time, they all have one thing in common—they have all been blessed by the unrivaled talents of Ruth E. Carter, who tells our stories through fashion like no one else.
“When I first came into the industry, I looked for someone like me. I actually wanted a mentor to show me what Hollywood was like. And there were very few people working in costume design,” she told theGrio. “But I couldn’t find a person of color as a designer and so I felt like those were my shoes I would fill. I wanted to gather as much information about the Hollywood system as I could.”
Check out our exclusive interview with the legendary artist above.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!