Award Year

On Sunday, October 15, 2023, the Coolidge presented legendary, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter with the Coolidge Award, recognizing her work shaping the story of the Black experience on screen.


Born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, Ruth E. Carter is a living legend of costume design. For three decades, she has shaped the story of the Black experience on screen—from the ’80s streetwear of Do the Right Thing to the royal regalia of Coming 2 America. Her work on Marvel's Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever not only brought Afrofuturism to the mainstream, but also made her the first Black winner of an Oscar in costume design and the first Black woman to win two Academy Awards in any category. In 2021, she became the second-ever costume designer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

For more than three decades in film, television, and theater, Carter has earned seventy credits and collaborated with prolific directors, including 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 (1989), Malcolm X (1992), What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993), Amistad (1997), The Butler (2013), Selma (2014), Marshall (2017), Dolemite Is My Name (2019), and Coming 2 America (2021) 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 and Amistad 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 Picture Arts and Sciences, and author of the book “The Art of Ruth E. Carter”—a behind-the-scenes journey in creating the most iconic costumes in filmmaking.

Carter is beloved in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts and was given the key to the city for her achievements and service to the community (2021). She is a graduate of Hampton University, Virginia (HBCU) and most recently served as their commencement speaker and was given the distinction of honorary doctorate. She holds an additional honorary doctorate from Suffolk University, Massachusetts.