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For their work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to be Oscar nominated in the makeup and hairstyling category.
Neal was the film’s hair and wig designer and hair department head, and Wilson is the personal hair stylist for Viola Davis. Sharing the nomination with these women is Davis’ personal make-up artist and first-time nominee, Sergio Lopez-Rivera. Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on August Wilson’s play of the same name, follows the titular blues singer (Davis) during a recording session in 1920s Chicago.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be honored by such a prestigious committee,” said Neal. ” To be with Jamika and for us to be the first African Americans nominated in this category is overwhelming. I have to raise my expectations for myself because this was something I never thought that I could achieve. I attribute the opportunity that we received from Denzel [Washington] who has really made it his mission to tell the stories of our dignitaries and keep their work alive, like August Wilson and Ma Rainey.
“I also have to thank my ancestors,” she added. “I feel like they’ve been with me every step of the way, and that everything they’ve done was so their future generations could live out their dreams. They kept going so we could have a better life, and I feel like these dreams of mine are their dreams too. And I hope that people that look like us know that they can do it too.”
Said Wilson, “The recognition of my art and talent by the Academy of Motion Picture and Science is bigger than me. It is for every young hair stylist who dreams beyond the salon chair to work on a motion picture set. It is for the young child who tells their parent they want to be a hair stylist 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.
“Growing up, my grandmother always told me to do my best no matter what, no matter who’s watching. I live this daily on set,” Wilson said. “I bring this to work each day. I know she is smiling down from Heaven, celebrating this nomination with me. Eternal gratitude to Viola Davis for the opportunities she’s blessed me with and inspiring me to reach higher.”
With Davis, Wilson has worked on productions such as Widows and How to Get Away With Murder. Neal’s recent credits includes Uncut Gems and Pose, for which she earned an 2019 Emmy nomination.
Also nominated for makeup and hairstyling are Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze for Emma; Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney for Hillbilly Elegy; Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff for Mank; and Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti for Pinocchio.
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