Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has just made Oscar history.
The hairstyling and makeup team— consisting of hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson and makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera— earned the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at Sunday’s ceremony, with Neal and Wilson becoming the first two Black women to win the award.
Neal, who created 100 wigs for the film, with two in particular for Viola Davis, studied at Julliard and previously worked on Broadway productions of Julius Caesar, A Raisin in the Sun and The Iceman Cometh. She also designed Oprah Winfrey’s wigs for 2017’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. She told Vogue that she created one of the wigs in Ma Rainey with England-imported horsehair.
Wilson fashioned the wigs after being Davis’ personal assistant since 2008 and leading the hair department for How to Get Away with Murder.
“She wanted someone who could style her hair and handle it,” she told NPR earlier this month. “African Americans are familiar with both types of hair, you know? We just don’t do one texture of hair. We can do it all. And by actors now speaking up and saying that they want someone who can handle their hair, they have to bring an African American hairstylist because there’s not very many Caucasian hairstylists that feel comfortable doing African American hair.”
Lopez-Rivera has worked as Davis’ makeup artist since How to Get Away with Murder and, for the Oscar-winning film, gave her some gold teeth with smeared-on eyeshadow and cheek rouge.