Ever since working on Spike Lee’s School Daze, costume designer Ruth E. Carter has reached a level of prominent figures in the industry including Colleen Atwood, Sandy Powell and the iconic Edith Head (although, Carter will humbly say that it’s not true…but it is). Her work has been seen in Selma and Lee Daniels’ The Butler and she has received Oscar nominations for her work in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and Lee’s Malcolm X. Her recent nom for Black Panther marks a significant moment in Academy Awards history, putting her in a special group of women. She is now tied with Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis when it comes to Oscar nominations for black women (they each have three). And if Carter wins the Oscar for Costume Design, she would be the first to do so.
Carter stepped into the New Hollywood Podcast wearing a gorgeously colorful printed suit to talk about her work on the groundbreaking Marvel film Black Panther — but she did not just talk about her inspiration behind the costumes of the culturally majestic world of Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda. She totally schooled us on the detail and thoughtful work that went into each and every costume. From the bold red and shaved heads of the Dora Milaje to the kinetic purple glow of T’Challa’s Black Panther suit, each and every detail supports the narrative and, more than that gives dimension and intention to the characters. During the episode, she unpacks the storytelling detail that went into the Wakandan costumes in a thoughtful way that will make you appreciate her work in Black Panther as well as every single movie from her vast resume.
Listen to the episode below.