Oscars 2019 A Banner Year For Diversity As Actors Of Color & Women Set Records

Read on: Deadline.

Diversity was one of the biggest winners at the Oscars on Sunday, with three out of the four top acting awards won by non-white actors as Regina King, Mahershala Ali and Rami Malek triumphed for their roles in If Beale Street Could Talk, Green Book and…

Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler Reflect on Being First Black Winners in Their Oscar Categories

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Black Panther” colleagues Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler made history at the 91st Oscars: They were the first black people to win Oscars in their respective categories.

Carter won for Best Costume Design and Beachler won for Best Production Design for their work on the hit Marvel film, and speaking backstage after accepting their awards, they shared why their achievements felt so significant.

“I dreamed of this night and I prayed for this night, not only for being a hard working costume designer, but what it would mean for people behind me,”  Carter said in the Oscars press room. “We won’t have to wait for another first. We have the first.”

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Beachler said that for her, taking this job wasn’t about her desire to work on “Black Panther” but about convincing Marvel that she would be right and worthy for the job. She offered some advice to any other young black girls who might have such aspirations.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do this craft. You are worthy, and you are beautiful, and this is for you,” Beachler said. “The advice that changed everything the most was when I arrived in Oakland all those years ago, with Ryan [Coogler], and he said, you know what, just be honest, just be truthful, just be you.”

Carter had some advice for her own younger self.

Also Read: How ‘Black Panther’ Designers Hannah Beachler and Ruth E Carter Built Wakanda With ‘a Root in Africa and Functionality’

“I would tell my young self that, through the hard work, through whatever you might’ve felt, that you are doing the right thing,” Carter said. “But fear not, because tomorrow is yours.”

Beachler said when she stepped on the first completed set for “Black Panther,” the casino set, she kneeled down and cried, never believing that she would get to one day make something on the scale of a Marvel movie.

“It’s a collaborative medium,” Beachler said. “You lean on the people that you love. Your family. And I would consider Ryan and everyone else on ‘Black Panther’ part of my family.”

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‘Black Panther’s Hannah Beachler Makes History As First African American To Win Oscar For Best Production Design

Read on: Deadline.

Tonight, in her first go-round at the Oscars, Hannah Beachler took home the statuette for Best Production Design, for her contributions to Ryan Coogler’s Marvel phenomenon, Black Panther.
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How ‘Black Panther’ Designers Hannah Beachler and Ruth E Carter Built Wakanda With ‘a Root in Africa and Functionality’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A version of this story about Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine. 

When it was released last year, “Black Panther” earned worldwide acclaim for assembling the most talented cast of black actors ever seen in a blockbuster. It was hailed as a game-changer for Hollywood diversity, and the trend-setting on Ryan Coogler’s Marvel film was being made behind the camera as well.

“It felt like the next phase in inclusiveness, having not just people of color in charge of departments but women of color,” said costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who with her third nomination is now tied with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as the most-nominated African-American woman in Oscar history. (Her previous nods came for 1992’s “Malcolm X” and 1997’s “Amistad.”)

“Sometimes it’s hard to change people’s mindset,” Carter said. “Women still have to fight to show people that we know what we’re doing. That change is still in the works, but at least there’s more of us.”

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Meanwhile, Hannah Beachler became the first black woman in the Oscars’ 91-year history to be nominated for production design. To get there, Beachler coordinated with Coogler and all the other design departments to turn Wakanda into a living, breathing world. Among those she worked with was Carter, best known for her longtime collaboration with Spike Lee.

“We talked about everything — the stories behind our ideas, the aesthetics as it related to characters, sets, tribes, places and scenes,” Beachler said. “I would go into Ruth’s shop once a week or so, and she’d walk me through and we’d talk about the thousands of garments, jewelry, etc. It was about constant communication, constant sharing of ideas with each other, the director and producers. That’s how we made it work — by letting each other into our unique processes.”

Through their combined work, the “Black Panther” team built a “Wakanda Bible” that told the history and culture of Wakanda and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The scope of their work can be seen in a single shot, when T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) arrives at Warrior Falls to officially become king of Wakanda. Carter had to design dozens of outfits for actors playing members of the five tribes of the kingdom, and the inspirations came from tribes all over Africa.

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“It was one of the last scenes on the shooting schedule, and we were all exhausted,” Carter said. “But I knew this scene was important because Ryan told us this scene needed to be glorious. I scheduled fittings around my normal schedule, and I would have actors come in to be sized up and I’d compare it to my research.”

“Someone would come in and I’d take one look and say, ‘You look like a perfect Masai warrior.’ And they would tell me, ‘Well, I was told to show up as a Himba,’ and I’d say, ‘No, no, wrong, you’re Masai.’”

Beachler took her design inspirations a step further, not just thinking of where the architectural designs for Wakanda’s buildings might come from but also how they’re built. This was particularly important when designing the home of the Jabari, the one Wakandan tribe that has shunned the nation’s technological advancements. There, wood is emphasized over metal, so Beachler took inspiration not from Africa, but from Japan.

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“In M’Baku’s throne room, the wood walls you see as you enter the room are done using the Japanese technique, Shou Sugi Ban. It’s a process that involves charring a wood surface to render it a deep charcoal black, making it weatherproof,” Beachler explains.

“In our story, the Jabari tribe do not use the metal resource vibranium. In their region, the earth is saturated with vibranium dust, making the trees as strong and powerful as the metal when the wood is burned. This more organic technology is shown in the burnt wood of this particular set.”

And of course, the “Black Panther” comic books were an inspiration as well, particularly when it came time for Carter to design her most eye-popping outfits: the uniforms for the Dora Milaje. Various designs for Wakanda’s royal guards have been imagined by comic artists over the years, including Anthony Francisco, the Marvel artist tasked with the concept design for “Black Panther.”

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It was up to Carter to take those designs and figure out how the people of an African nation would design such a uniform that, in her words, “was both wearable art and a piece of armor.”

“The red color needed to be bright, because we were only building about eight or 10 Dora costumes. The neck rings needed to be bright too. We silver and gold plated them so they stood out and showed their rank as an elite force. As we went along, I’m examining the beads, the bodysuit, and making sure that every element has both a root in Africa and functionality.”

Many of the details Carter and Beachler included in the film may have only been on screen for a few seconds, but Marvel fans, having honed their eye for such details from dissecting “Avengers” trailers, caught on quickly.

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“I did write a note to everyone on Twitter around Christmas time in the Wakandan script that Zach Fannin and I designed,” Beachler said. “And I’m telling you, it wasn’t even a week before people had the whole alphabet! It was very impressive.”

Beachler also found that creating Wakanda with her colleagues was an emotional anchor. Production on “Black Panther” began after the 2016 election, and emotions were running high.

“I said to Ryan, ‘How are we going to make it through all of this?’ He opened up his phone and pulled up a picture of all of us standing there on location — strong, warriors — and he said, ‘This is hope.’ That’s what it meant to go to set every day and see the array of people, colors, genders, religions, sexual orientations, all of it. Hope beyond all else.”

To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire Oscar magazine, click here.

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Women Snagged Record 28 Percent of This Year’s Oscar Nominations, an All-Time High

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Women accounted for 27.5 percent of all the Oscar nominees in 2019, a slight uptick from last year’s record-setting year, in which only 26.8 percent of the nominations went to women.

Of the 225 individuals nominated this year in the 24 competitive categories, 62 women were named, based on a tally from TheWrap. That’s compared to just 57 of 213 individual nominees in 2018 (26.8 percent), and 48 of 211 in 2017 (22.7 percent).

According to TheWrap’s analysis, individuals like Lady Gaga, costume designer Sandy Powell and writer-director-producer Alfonso Cuarón were counted for each of their nominations.

The gains came primarily in below-the-line categories like Documentary Feature, Makeup and Hairstyling, Animated short, Live-Action Short and Sound Editing. In fact, eight of the 15 individuals nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category were women, compared to just four last year.

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But many commentators have noted that this year failed to repeat some of last year’s historic nominationsin major categories like Best Director, when Greta Gerwig became only the fifth female nominee, for “Lady Bird.”

Last year also boasted a historic nomination when Rachel Morrison became the first woman to ever be nominated for Best Cinematography for her work on “Mudbound.” While she didn’t score a nomination for her subsequent work on “Black Panther,” this year, Hannah Beachler became the first African American to be nominated in the Production Design category.

As for the actresses, five of the 10 nominees are first-time acting nominees, including Olivia Colman, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Regina King and Lady Gaga, who was previously nominated for Best Original Song and was again this year. She’s also only the second person to be nominated for acting and for an original song for the same film. The previous woman to do so was Mary J. Blige for her work in “Mudbound” last year.

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In the Best Picture race however, only five of the 25 nominated producers were women: Lynette Howell Taylor for “A Star is Born,” Gabriella Rodriguez for “Roma,” Lee Magiday and Ceci Dempsey for “The Favourite” and Dede Gardner for “Vice.”

That’s a drop from last year, when eight of the 30 producing nominees were women.

Finally, if either “Roma” or “The Favourite” manages to win Best Picture, it will be only the fourth time that the winner contains women in the two principal roles.

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Black Panther’s production designer talks bringing the nation of Wakanda to life

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Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther film will mark the first solo outing for the character and the first live-action depiction of his home, Wakanda. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Wakanda imagines an isolated African nation whose borders have never been penetrated by colonizers or conquerers—at least none who can…

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