Two Black Women Win Oscar for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling goes to the crew behind Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Black women hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson have finally broken through to the top. Sergio Lopez-Rivera, the film’s makeup artist, was also nominated for an Academy Award.

Two Black Women Win Oscar for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Viola Davis, who plays Ma Rainey, the “Mother of the Blues,” wore two of the film’s 100 custom-made wigs by Neal.

The Juilliard-trained hairstylist created Oprah Winfrey’s wig for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and worked on the Broadway productions of Julius Caesar, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Iceman Cometh.

Neal told Vogue that she constructed one of the wigs herself out of horsehair imported from England, in keeping with the hairpieces favoured by the historical Ma Rainey.

She claimed that she had to oil, sterilise, and boil the horsehair in order to make the custom wigs soft and lightweight because it had come coated in dung and lice eggs.

George C Wolfe’s Film is Adapted from August Wilson’s Stage Musical

The film by George C. Wolfe about the blues singer Ma Rainey is based on August Wilson’s musical of the same name.

Topics discussed in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom include the exploitation of Black musical ability by White producers and record labels, as well as the nature of creative cooperation.

The major action takes place in 1927, during a recording session with Ma Rainey (Davis) and her band.

Young trumpeter Levee Green (Boseman) wants to create his own sound and irritates his band colleagues with his arrogance.

Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts play members of Ma Rainey’s band in the play.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Makes History

Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, and Jamika Wilson, the film’s hair and makeup team, were nominated for an Academy Award.

The first Black persons to be honoured in the category. Having won an Oscar, they will forever be remembered in film annals.

A hundred wigs were fashioned by Mia Neal, who thanked her ancestors in her acceptance speech.

“I want to say thank you to all our predecessors who put in the work, were refused, but never gave up,” she said.

Along with Jamika Wilson, I am proud to be breaking this barrier and looking forward to what the future holds.


Of course, the Oscars are typically full of unexpected turns, but at the 93rd annual ceremony on Sunday night, a two-for-one triumph created double history.

Mia Neal, head of the hair department, and Jamika Wilson, star Viola Davis’ personal hairstylist, made history.

When they accepted the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” as the first Black women to do so.

When Neal and Wilson were nominated for the award in March, they were the first Black women to do so.