Ruth E. Carter (born April 10, 1960) is an American costume designer, for film and television, with over 40 films to her credit, who has mastered the look of multiple periods and genres in envisioning the clothing and overall appearance of a character or performer. During her near 30 year film career, Carter has earned three nominations for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work on Spike Lee's biographical film Malcolm X (1992), Steven Spielberg's historical drama film Amistad (1997), and her most recent work on Ryan Coogler's superhero film Black Panther (2018), for which she was awarded the Oscar for Best Costume Design at the 91st Academy Awards. She is the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design.
Carter graduated from Hampton Institute (1868 -1983) currently known as Hampton University (1984 - Present), Virginia, in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Carter began her career working as an intern in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts and at the Santa Fe Opera. She moved to Los Angeles in 1986. While working at the Los Angeles Theater Center, Carter met director Spike Lee, who hired her for his second film, School Daze (1988), and with whom she worked on a number of films thereafter, including Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), and Malcolm X (1992). Carter has continued to work on films for Spike Lee, including Oldboy (2013), Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), and Chi-Raq (2015).
In addition to designing costumes for the films of Spike Lee, Carter has worked with legendary directors such as Steven Spielberg and John Singleton, and has dressed actors from Denzel Washington to Josh Brolin, and actresses from Angela Bassett to Jane Fonda.
Carter is also known for her work on What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Serenity (2005), Four Brothers (2005), Sparkle (2012), The Butler (2013) directed by Lee Daniels, and Selma (2014) directed by Ava DuVernay.
Carter's most recent work was on the Afrofuturist superhero Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther (2018), directed by Ryan Coogler. For the film, she traveled to southern Africa to draw aesthetic inspirations and to receive permission to incorporate traditional Lesotho designs into the film's costumes.
- 2002: American Black Film Festival, Career Achievement Award
- 2015: Essence, 2015 Black Women in Hollywood Award at the 8th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
- 2019: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Best Costume Design
|1988||School Daze||Spike Lee|
|I'm Gonna Git You Sucka||Keenen Ivory Wayans|
|1989||Do the Right Thing||Spike Lee|
|1990||Mo' Better Blues|
|1991||House Party 2||Doug McHenry|
|Jungle Fever||Spike Lee|
|The Five Heartbeats||Robert Townsend|
|1992||Malcolm X||Spike Lee|
|1993||What's Love Got to Do with It||Brian Gibson|
|Surviving the Game||Ernest R. Dickerson|
|1995||Money Train||Joseph Ruben|
|1996||The Great White Hype||Reginald Hudlin|
|1999||Summer of Sam||Spike Lee|
|2000||Price of Glory||Carlos Ávila|
|Love & Basketball||Gina Prince-Bythewood|
|2001||Baby Boy||John Singleton|
|Dr. Dolittle 2||Steve Carr|
|2002||I Spy||Betty Thomas|
|2003||Daddy Day Care||Steve Carr|
|2004||Against the Ropes||Charles S. Dutton|
|Four Brothers||John Singleton|
|2013||Teen Beach Movie||Jeffrey Hornaday|
|The Butler||Lee Daniels|
|2014||The Best of Me||Michael Hoffman|
|Da Sweet Blood of Jesus||Spike Lee|
|2016||Keeping Up with the Joneses||Greg Mottola|
|2018||Black Panther||Ryan Coogler|
|TBA||Dolemite Is My Name||Craig Brewer|
- Being Mary Jane (2013–Present)
- Roots (2016)