Ruth E. Carter

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Ruth E. Carter

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When Black Panther won near universal acclaim and earned $700 million (US) upon its release in early 2018, most people credited director Ryan Coogler as the storytelling presence who gave the Marvel film a different kind of weight, creativity, and perspective. But Coogler wasn't the only storyteller working on the film. Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter is a storyteller too — only she doesn't use a script, a captivating image, or a telling line of dialogue. Carter let audiences explore the fictional world of Wakanda through armor, robe, and headdress.

"Clothing is an emotional experience," Carter tells Find Your Grind, adding that the costumes she's designed for films like Selma, Malcolm X, and others reveal character histories and cultural roots. Black Panther necessitated Carter researching ancient African peoples and combining those visions with the futurist, technologically advanced aesthetic of the Marvel comic. Hear more from the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated designer in the video above.