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Issue 17 Out Now


Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Ruth E. Carter is known for her Afro Futuristic costume design work on Black Panther. The film helped her obtain the Oscar for best costume design and she was the first black woman to win the award in that category along with becoming the first black costume designer with a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame.

For over four decades, Carter has created costumes for numerous black films. Carter collaborates with talented directors telling their stories through independent film, while she tells a story through her costume designs. She creates costumes that influence how the actors play their characters.

A large part of black stories told in films are in the costumes and its design. The costume design can mean so much to the characters and how we see them from bright colors to earth tones and even monochromatic looks. In black films specifically, designs like jewelry, nails, hair, and generational clothing are essential to how black culture displays in that story. Costume design can distinguish important characters from side characters and can even lead to foreshadowing.

She has designed costumes for over 60 films, it’s hard to say you haven’t seen any of her work. Carter has designed costumes for Spike Lee a multitude of times, including Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, multiple films of John Singleton, and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.

In fact, her costume design has influenced classic movies among the likes of Do The Right Thing (Lee,1989), the fashion classic B*A*P*S (Townsend,1997), Love & Basketball (Prince-Bythewood, 200), Selma (DuVernay, 2014), as well as the upcoming film Coming 2 America (Brewer, 2021).

Ruth E. Carter has opened doors for black designers. Due to her talents in storytelling through clothing, directors want to hire black costume designers. Ruth E. Carter is living proof of the importance of having black people in diverse creative roles.


Dinh, Christine. “‘Black Panther’ Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Entertainment, 26 Feb. 2021,

IMBD. “Ruth E. Carter.” IMDb,,

Lara, Jovana. “Hollywood Star Unveiled for Ruth E. Carter, Oscar Winner Who Designed Costumes for ‘Black Panther,’ Other Blockbusters.” ABC7 Los Angeles, KABC-TV, 26 Feb. 2021,

Tangcay, Jazz. “Ruth E. Carter Makes History With a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Variety, Variety, 24 Feb. 2021,

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