Ruth E. Carter is a legendary entertainment industry legend with no signs of letting up. She is a Hampton University graduate. She is well-known as a costume designer with over 40 credits to her name. Since her stellar work on Black Panther, she has become an Oscar-winner in Best Costume Design, making her the first black woman to do so. She has worked on classics like Malcolm X, Amistad, Selma, School Daze, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and most recently, Coming 2 America.

Ruth E. Carter (Credit: AMPAS/Jeff Lipsky)

With such an accomplished career behind her, we wanted to sit down not only with Ruth E. Carter, but with a roundtable of HBCU students to reflect on just how far the HBCU experience can propel you into your purpose. Ruth E. Carter’s passion for her work could be felt through every response she gave. Considering Carter’s accomplishments to the entertainment industry, her Oscar, and her upcoming star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, students were star-struck, yet eager to hear from the fashion maven. 

Daniel Ryan from Tuskegee University inquired about how Carter’s experience attending Hampton shaped her work. She shared something that it seems the mainstream media is just beginning to realize: HBCUs actually do provide that solid foundation in preparing students for the working world. In addition to  courses, HBCUs empower black students to see that success can look like them, so they excel fearlessly. Carter was able to be trained in college on tedious sets like A Raisin In The Sun, The Color Purple, and more.

Business permeates every industry, and student Glenn Crawley Jr. of Virginia State University asked Ruth how she navigated advertisements in her work. He asked because as he enjoyed the film, he had noticed Meeka (KiKi Layne) confidently wore Puma branded outfits in some scenes. Ruth E. Carter let the students in on a little secret. In fact, her outfits weren’t just Puma, but from a black artist who was famous for remixing designer and other brands to make her own looks. But she shared that some endorsements like “Nike” would generally be easy to incorporate because brand awareness is so strong that viewers wouldn’t receive it as being advertised to. Another surprising fact was Carter’s decision to use the designs of emerging black designer Sergio Hudson. Hudson has garnered a lot of buzz lately for dressing political leading ladies Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris for the recent presidential inauguration. The students appreciated Carter’s decisions behind the scenes to use her platform to support black designers in an industry where they are often overlooked.

To learn more about the engaging conversation, tune in here (HYPERLINK). Make sure you catch Carter’s hand-picked designs in the new and long-awaited comedy Coming 2 America, which is out now on Amazon Prime!