After winning an Oscar for her costumes on the Ryan Coogler blockbuster Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter is carefully stitching together a plan for her next assignment — bringing the wardrobe to life for Coming to America 2.
At a gala Saturday night in Los Angeles, hosted by the Black Design Collective, Carter said she’s in the early stages of mapping out the costumes for the Craig Brewer-directed film.
“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I’m reunited with Eddie Murphy. We’ve done several projects together.”
John Landis directed the original film, and his wife Deborah Nadoolman Landis designed the costumes for the 1988 comedy, earning an Oscar nomination for her work on the clothes for the fictional African country of Zamunda.
Yet, even after winning an Oscar, Carter said she doesn’t want to disappoint Coming to America fans.
“It’s big shoes to step in. That’s an iconic film,” she noted. “We’re going to continue Zamunda. We’re not trying to change the look, but we are going to modernize some things to show the new generation.”
The costumer has worked on dozens of films, including Malcolm X, Selma, Amistad and Do the Right Thing, just to name a few. She was honored during Saturday’s gala, for becoming the first African-American to take home an Academy Award in the Costume Design category.
Los Angeles-based red carpet designer Kevan Hall is one of the founders of the newly created collective.
Hall and fellow designers Angela Dean, and TJ Walker started the organization to promote and support the work of black fashion designers and costumers, as well as to raise money for students at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in downtown L.A. They handed out a $10,000 scholarship at the event.
“We just saw a need for there to be an opportunity to help young designers find their way,” Hall explained. “We wanted to be able to give back.”
Actress Gabrielle Union, who starred on BET’s Being Mary Jane, attended the gala and praised Carter — who worked on the series — for giving her character style.
“She’s been a huge part of my career from the very beginning,” Union said on the red carpet. “And she continues to allow us to shine and do what we do best and kill it.”
Union went on to describe Carter’s Oscar win as “inspirational,” but cautioned only time will tell if it opens doors to more diversity among Hollywood’s costume design ranks.
“We got these questions when Halle won. They asked is your career going to change? Is your life going to change, and we were all like ‘yes!’ and then it didn’t,” Union said about Halle Berry’s 2002 Best Actress Oscar win for her role in Monster’s Ball.
Union continued, “I hope that with Ruth’s win, it really is about change. It really is about pulling up more chairs to the proverbial table, and if they don’t allow us to pull up our chairs, then we say f–k it and build our own house.”
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