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Ruth  Carter

Ruth Carter

Academy Award Winner in Costume Design for Marvel’s Black Panther

Ruth Carter

Academy Award Winner in Costume Design for Marvel’s Black Panther


Ruth E. Carter is the 2019 Academy Award winner in Costume Design for Marvel’s Black Panther, making history as the first African-American to win in the category. Carter wows audiences and dazzles critics alike with Afro Future looks that empower the female form and turn a superhero into an African King.

Inspired by African tribal wear, Carter fuses traditional and contemporary while incorporating technology to deliver fashion and function, creating such authenticity and ownership for the actors, characters, and viewers, cementing her as one of the preeminent voices and experts on Afro aesthetics.

Experience Carter’s recent costume design brilliance in the most anticipated sequel and highest opening for a streaming film, “COMING 2 AMERICA,” starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall and directed by Craig Brewer on Amazon Prime. Thirty years later, Carter honors the memorable and grandiose vision of the first film and, for the sequel, imbues Afro Future design elements to create the majestic beauty and splendor of African royalty. Leaving the viewer in complete awe. Collaborating with 40 designers from around the world, Carter and her team transform Zamunda into the fashion capitol of the world.

A career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter’s depth of artistry, flowing with her creative instincts, passion for culture and history, empathy for people, capacity for research, eye for detail, and ability to deliver the director’s vision while infusing her own signature, makes her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers in the world.

Earning her over forty film credits, including two Academy Award nominations for “MALCOLM X” (1993) and “AMISTAD” (1998), an Emmy nomination for the reboot of the television mini-series “ROOTS” (2016), and the second Costume Designer and first Black Costume Designer to receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2021).

Ruth Carter’s costumes tell stories so intriguing and unforgettable they influence music, fashion, culture, and film-making and help us to understand ourselves better. Carter has collaborated with a myriad of directors and visionaries beginning with Spike Lee in “SCHOOL DAZE,” and working with him on 12 films including “DO THE RIGHT THING,” which is archived in the Library of Congress, “MALCOLM X, "MO BETTER BLUES," and “CHI-RAQ.”

She joined forces with Robert Townsend to make the iconic “FIVE HEARTBEATS,” with Keenan Ivory Wayans in “I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA,” and with the late John Singleton in the gritty “BABY BOY” and “ROSEWOOD.” Her breath of knowledge in African-American history and art was sought after by Steven Spielberg and Debbie Allen for “AMISTAD.” Thereafter, she continued to present outstanding work for period ensemble films in Lee Daniels’ “THE BUTLER,” Ava Duvernay’s “SELMA,” and Reginald Hudlin’s “MARSHALL.”

Over the years, Carter has dressed characters played by many of Hollywood’s most legendary actors, multiple times, and for iconic roles including Angela Bassett as Betty Shabazz in “MALCOM X,” Tina Turner in “WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT,” Stella in “HOW STELLA GOT HER GROVE BACK,” and Queen Ramonda in “BLACK PANTHER.”

The late Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, T’Challa, and the Black Panther. Halle Berry in “JUNGLE FEVER” and “B.A.P.S.” Eight films with Samuel L. Jackson, from Mister Señor Love Daddy in “DO THE RIGHT THING” to “SHAFT.” And, seven films with Eddie Murphy, most recently, as King Akeem and Rudy Ray Moore for which Carter won the 2020 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Costume for her 1970’s urban dandy costume design work in the Netflix film, “DOLEMITE IS MY NAME.”

Carter also created the costumes and look for the pilot episodes of “SEINFELD” and “IN LIVING COLOR.” And, for the first season of the wildly popular, “YELLOWSTONE” starring Kevin Costner and directed by Taylor Sheridan.

Carter is a member of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation and is a founder of the Mildred Blount Scholarship Fund created to assist BIPOC costume designers. Carter’s exhibition of her costumes is in residence at SCAD in Atlanta, GA and she is regularly asked to deliver commencement address, keynote speeches, and guest lectures about her career and life journey. Carter and her creative process can be seen in Netflix’s Original Documentary “ABSTRACT” Season 2.

Speech Topics

Afrofuturism: Combining Science Fiction, History & Fantasy to Explore the Black Experience

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that combines science fiction, history, and fantasy to explore the Black experience and connect those from the African Diaspora with their lost ancestry. Carter defines Afrofuturism as “using technology and intertwining it with imagination, self-expression, and an entrepreneurial spirit, promoting a philosophy for Black Americans, Africans, and Indigenous people to believe and create without the limiting construct of slavery and colonialism."

An Evening With Ruth Carter