Two-time Oscar Winning Costume Designer

Ruth E. Carter
Speaking Fee: $20,000 to $30,000

Travels From: LAX - Los Angeles (All Airports)

Primary Topic Category: African American & Black

Secondary Topic Category: Creativity and Innovation

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Ruth E. Carter At A Glance:

Ruth Carter is a Hollywood veteran, having outfitted some of the culture’s most iconic films from Malcolm X to Five Heartbeats. The multiple Oscar and Emmy-nominated costume designer took on afrofuturism fashions in the mega-blockbusters, Black Panther and in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She just became the first black woman to win two Oscars at the 2023 awards, making Ruth one of the most renowned costume designers and inspirations today. Learn about the inspiration behind Wakandan fashion, what is was like to create clothing for a fictional place, and the impact the costumes have had on Black Panther's success.

Ruth E. Carter is the two-time Academy Award winning American film costume designer. Best known for turning the Black Panther superhero into an African King, Carter makes history as the first Black person to win the category and earn Marvel Studios their first Oscar recognition.

For her outstanding costume design work in BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, Carter, again, makes history as she becomes the first Black woman to win multiple Academy Awards in any category and the first costume designer to win for the first film and its sequel.

Carter pays tribute to the people of Africa through the costumes in BLACK PANTHER and BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. She fuses traditional and contemporary while incorporating technology to deliver fashion and function, creating Afrofuturistic pieces that empower the female form, honor ancient cultures, and invoke a deep sense of representation unlike any other costumes experienced on screen.

For BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, Carter transforms the groundbreaking Afrofuturistic Wakandan looks from the first film and introduces new superheroes and the underwater world of the Talokan into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She was tasked with creating hundreds of costumes and multiple builds for superhero characters steeped in symbolism and storytelling from two civilizations that battle on land, in air, and underwater. Carter elevates the characters from the first film by adding more brilliance and depth of culture and emotion to the costumes and creates wearable art with breathtaking pieces that honor post classic Mesoamerican Maya culture for the Indigenous futuristic Talokan.

Over three decades in film, television, and theater, Carter has earned seventy credits and collaborated with prolific directors, including Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, and Ryan Coogler. Carter’s costumes based on real and imaginative characters provide an arc to the narratives of African Americans from DO THE RIGHT THING, MALCOLM X, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, AMISTAD, THE BUTLER, MARSHALL, SELMA, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, COMING 2 AMERICA to BLACK PANTHER:WAKANDA FOREVER. Her devotion to retraining the eye to see beauty through costume design and telling stories that enrich the humanity of the Black experience cements her legacy as a preeminent voice and expert on period genres and Afro aesthetics.

Carter’s outstanding costume design work has been honored with Academy Award nominations for MALCOLM X (1993) and AMISTAD (1998) and an Emmy nomination for the miniseries reboot of ROOTS (2016). The impact of her career in filmmaking has been recognized with the Costume Designers Guild’s Career Achievement Award (2019) and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2021). She is also a member of the board of governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her costumes serve as an American treasure of history and culture and are on display in a traveling museum exhibition titled “Afrofuturism in Costume Design.” She is a graduate of Hampton University and holds an honorary doctorate from Suffolk University.

  • Costume Concepts to Creations

    Ruth Carter’s unparalleled ability to develop an authentic story through costume and character has made her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers today. Learn about the inspiration behind Wakandan fashion, what it was like to create clothing for a fictional place, and the impact the costumes have had on "Black Panther's" success. Listen as she discusses taking what was once an idea to an award-winning creation.
  • Behind the Scenes with Ruth E. Carter

    From the streets of Selma in 1965 to the Afro-futuristic world of Wakanda, Ruth E. Carter's award-winning costume designs bring movies like Selma and Black Panther (and dozens of other critically acclaimed films) to life. In this virtual talk and Q&A, Ruth inspires audiences to tell their authentic stories as she shares anecdotes from her experience as one of Hollywood's premiere costume designers.
  • Masterclass Session

    Inspire your audiences with a live Masterclass from Ruth E. Carter, Oscar-winning costume designer and a favorite among Hollywood's biggest directors. In this engaging Q&A series, Ruth recounts her experiences working on films such as Malcom X, Selma, Black Panther, and more. Ruth also teaches audiences how to unleash their creativity and tell their stories
The keynote presentation was truly fascinating.

— International Interior Design Association

The many attendees there were completely invested in the talk and asked a bunch of great questions afterward. Most stayed until the very end. Ruth was super easy to work with and it was a pleasure hosting her.

— San Diego State University

She was fantastic and so gracious with our students. It was a real treat having her here. Students from the theater department found it especially insightful.

— KU Memorial Union

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