Black Panther Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter Recalls Having "No Jitters" When Winning Her Oscar

Ruth E. Carter is a costume designer who has created iconic looks for Do the Right Thing, Selma, Coming 2 America, and much more. In the 1990s, she was nominated for two Academy Awards for her costume work on Malcolm X and Amistad, but it wasn't until 2019 that she finally won her first Oscar. These days, Carter is known best as the creator of the costumes for the MCU's Black Panther. In fact, two years after her big win, she was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During a recent chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Carter opened up about her Oscar win and revealed she didn't get too nervous having to give a speech. 

"As we were waiting to walk inside to take our seats in the auditorium – there were several people that I knew there that night. ... Friends that were attending, and famous people that I knew, and everyone, was whispering to me: 'This is your night, this is your night.' So, no pressure. I kept thinking I wanted to be humble, I wanted to not be in the zone of 'This is my night.' I wanted to be prepared, but they sat all of the costume designers together. So if I wanted to, for a moment, feel like 'This is my night,' I didn't want the other costume designers to see me all in my 'I'm going up there' deal. So I tried to really center myself in this moment of humility, that if they didn't call my name, I wouldn't really [be] crushed," Carter shared.

"But I did want to be prepared. So I had a speech. It was in my boyfriend's pocket, in the breast pocket of his tuxedo. I kept asking him to give it to me, so I could look at it. And then I'd give it back to him. I did that about 20 times. Taking it out, putting it back. Then I had this dilemma about my glasses, and I thought, 'Should I wear them? Or should I ...' I can't read my speech if I don't wear them. And if I talk from the heart, I won't have to wear my glasses. I can just speak from the heart. The hair and makeup category was just before costume design. And they kept flubbing; they had a symphony of three going on with one speech, and they kept, you know, messing up who was supposed to read next. And I thought, 'Give me the speech. I'm going to go up there and read it. And I'm going to give them something to remember.' And then they did that funny skit with, I forget the actress' name [Melissa McCarthy], coming out with all the costumes from all the films ..." 

Carter continued, "Yeah! And she had the little rabbits from that film [The Favourite] attached to her train. I was like, 'Oh, my God, we're wearing the same dress.' We weren't. But I had this moment of like, 'Oh, God, now I'm going up. I'm going up after the joke.' When they read my name, I had such a moment of courage. I felt no jitters. I felt so proud. I got up, and to my surprise the other costume designers stood up and applauded and helped fluff out the back of my dress as I walked. And I felt really, really good. Spike Lee was sitting in the audience, right in front of me, like four rows up. And what wasn't on my speech was my thank you to him, because he started my career. I thought to myself, seconds before I said anything, that I would thank him. So I said 'Thank you, Spike. For my start. I hope this makes you proud.'"

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Unfortunately, it's been reported that Carter isn't doing the costume for the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters on November 11th.