For the first time ever, two Black women have won an Oscar for makeup and styling at the 93rd annual Academy Awards: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom hair department head Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, Viola Davis’ hair stylist. On Sunday, Neal accepted the Academy Award alongside Wilson and makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera.
“I was raised by my grandfather, James Holland, he was an original Tuskegee Airman,” Neal said on stage. “He represented the U.S. in the first PanAm games, he went Argentina, he graduated from Northwestern University in a time when they did not allow Blacks to stay on campus so he stayed at the YMCA. And after all of accomplishments, he went back to his hometown in hopes of becoming a teacher but they did not hire Blacks in the school system.”
She continued: “So I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, who were denied but never gave up. I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. (WILD APPLAUSE) Because I can picture my 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. Thank you to the Academy, to Netflix, to Denzel Washington, to George C. Wolf, to Ann Roth, to Ms. Viola Davis […] and the spirit of Ma Rainey. Thank you.”
“The recognition of my art and talent by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is bigger than me,” Wilson told Variety in March. “It is for every young hairstylist who dreams beyond the salon chair to work on a motion picture set. It is for the young child who tells their parents they want to be a hairstylist to receive a response of ‘That’s not a real career.’ The nomination is validation that hair styling is an art form, a craft and a skill. It also shows every Black woman or man doing hair that we can achieve, and importantly that our talent and skill is equal and exceptional.”