Seasoned Hollywood costume designer Ruth E. Carter has yet again written her name in the history books as she recently earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – making her the first Black woman in her profession to have her name immortalized on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.
The event was held virtually on Thursday and featured Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Murphy as guest speakers. With a career spanning over four decades, Carter has worked with some of Hollywood’s A-list directors including long-time collaborator Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, John Singleton and Ryan Coogler. Some of her notable projects include Do the Right Thing, Amistad, Malcolm X, Black Panther and yet-to-be-released Coming 2 America.
“Nothing was handed to me. Every moment, every sacrifice, every effort was hard work, inspired by my passion,” Carter said, according to ABC7.
Carter made history in 1993 when she became the first Black woman to earn an Oscar nomination for her work as a costume designer on Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, following it up with another nomination in 1998 for her work on Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. In 2019, Carter eventually won the coveted Best Costume Design for her outstanding work on box office hit and history-making movie Black Panther – making her the first Black woman to win an Oscar in that category.
“I’ve never had a wardrobe designer whose clothes actually influence how you play your character, how you walk, how you stand; she really is instrumental in bringing your characters to life,” Eddie Murphy said.
Oprah Winfrey added: “Ruth holds within her an awareness of our culture and knowledge of our history and is able to beautifully weave the two together to create fully-formed characters before they even speak a word. I say this from experience.”
During her acceptance speech, the 60-year-old, who is one of the only two costume designers to have their name on the walk of fame, dedicated her star to up-and-coming filmmakers and aspiring costume designers.
“It’s my hope that anyone who sacrifices, who beats these streets of Hollywood carrying their dreams and heavy garment bags full of costumes, desiring to be the best, like I did, that when you gaze upon my star, feel my energy, feel the power of your own unique story to realize your dreams so you too can reach your star,” she said. “Wakanda forever!”
In an interview with Variety prior to the event, Carter paid homage to Spike Lee and other Black filmmakers for catapulting her career.
“I was protected. I came up with Spike, Robert Townsend and Keenan Ivory Wayans. They were trying to do things their way, and it was independent film,” she said. “They didn’t mind me doing things my way, so it helped ease the pain of coming into this Hollywood framework. It wasn’t a studio introduction, [but] independent film, which made it easier.”