In a long-overdue and more-than-welcome development, the opening stages of the 2019 Oscars ceremony have put women of colour on full display, in front of the world, recognising them for their remarkable achievements in film across the past twelve months.
Four of the first five awards handed out went to black women in a barrier-shattering run of wins involving both Black Panther and If Beale Street Could Talk.
The first award of the night, Best Supporting Actress, went to the overwhelmingly popular choice in Regina King for her magnificent turn in Beale Street.
The second award of the evening, Best Documentary Feature, followed that up by giving a coveted Oscars statue to filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi for her work on the anxiety-inducing but seriously-great Free Solo.
But it was in the Costume Design and Production Design categories where the true new ground was broken.
After two previous nominations, tenured and revered costume designer Ruth E. Carter finally broke through to claim an Academy Award for her work on Black Panther. In doing so, Carter became the first black person to win the award in that category, a feat she noted in her acceptance speech, quipping “this has been a long time coming.”
Ruth Carter wins Oscar for Best Costume Design for "Black Panther."— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019
"Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king!" #Oscars https://t.co/zSrvQG8ZE6 pic.twitter.com/XJUUgNpLSm
Following that, Hannah Beachler took out the Oscar for Best Production Design, again for work on Black Panther. Not only is Beachler the first black person to win that award as well, she’s the first black person to ever be nominated for it, which is mind-boggling and absolutely huge.
Even more remarkably is the fact that, in total, three black women have won Oscars in non-acting categories. Two of them happened today. The other one? Way back in 1983 when Irene Cara took out the Best Original Song Oscar for Flashdance… What A Feeling from Flashdance. Unreal.
It remains to be seen how deep into this ceremony recognition for women of colour will run, but if nothing else it’s a magnificent start, and will certainly be one of the dominating storylines from this year’s Oscars.