History was made on Oscars night as Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, along with Sergio Lopez-Rivera. Neal helmed the hair department and Wilson is Viola Davis‘ personal stylist. They were also the first Black women to be nominated in the category.
“I was raised by my grandfather James Holland,” said Neal in her speech, as reported by Variety. “He was an original Tuskegee Airmen, he represented the US in the first Pan Am games, he went to Argentina he met Evita, he graduated from Northwestern University at a time that they did not allow Blacks to stay on campus, so he stayed at the YMCA. And after all of his accomplishments, he went back to his hometown in hopes of becoming a teacher. But they did not hire Blacks in the school system. So I wanted to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied, but never gave up.
Congrats to Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson! The two just became the first Black women to win the Oscar® for Best Makeup & Hairstyling for their work on MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, alongside Sergio Lopez-Rivera. pic.twitter.com/RTelg2gm2n
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) April 26, 2021
Neal continued, “And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters, and Indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking it will just be normal.”
Additionally, Ann Roth won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Led by Davis as Ma Rainey, the film also stars Chadwick Boseman (in his final on-screen role), Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige and Dusan Brown.
Denzel Washington (who starred with Davis in the film adaptation of Wilson’s Fences) produced the film. George C. Wolfe is the director and Ruben Santiago-Hudson adapted it.
The official description: Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.