Closing The Gap

Meet the women who made Oscar history for their work on 'Black Panther'

Hannah Beachler, winner of the Production Design award for 'Black Panther,' attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

The 91st Academy Awards was one of the most diverse to date, with a record number of women and African-Americans taking home trophies for their work.

Among those who made history were Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler, who won Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, respectively. Both were recognized for their work in "Black Panther," and each is the the first African-American to win in their category.

In their acceptance speeches, Carter and Beachler each thanked "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler for not only creating the groundbreaking Marvel film, but for also believing in their abilities to help bring the story to life.

"I stand here with agency and self-worth because of Ryan Coogler, who not only made me a better designer and storyteller, but a better person," said Beachler, who accepted the award alongside set decorator Jay Hart.

Beachler, who previously worked with Coogler on "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed," continued, saying, "I stand here because this man offered me a different perspective of life. He offered me a safe space, was patient and gave me air, humanity and brotherhood."

Frazer Harrison | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Carter also thanked fellow Oscar-winner Spike Lee for giving her her first shot at working in the industry more than 30 years ago. "This has been a long time coming," she said, regarding her win. "Spike Lee, thank you for my start. I hope this makes you proud."

Carter, who has worked on more than 50 films throughout her career, was previously nominated for an Oscar in 1992 for her work on Lee's film "Malcolm X." She was nominated again in 1997 for her work on Steven Spielberg's "Amistad." Last night, however, was her first time claiming an Oscar win.

"It's been my life's honor to create costumes," she said. "Thank you to the Academy for honoring African royalty and the empowered way women can look and lead on screen."

In an interview after her win, the designer emphasized the impact that she hopes it will have on future generations.

"I dreamed of this night and I prayed for this night, honestly," said Carter. "Not only for just being a hard-working costume designer, but for what it would mean for young people coming behind me because, you know, this came from grassroots. I started with independent film with Spike Lee and it rose through 40 films, 50 films and two Oscar nominations without a win, but I dreamed of this night. Now, we won't have to necessarily wait for another first. We have the first."

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Hannah Beachler, winner of the Production Design award for 'Black Panther,' attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images
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