For the first time this year, the Oscar Awards celebrate the contribution of women of African descent to beauty! Hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, who won an award in the ‘Best Hair and Makeup’ category with ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ cinema at the 2021 Oscar ceremony, became the first black women to receive this award.
“I want to thank our recruits who work, get rejected but never give up,” said Neal in his speech for their historic award, “And I’m standing here with Jamika and breaking this glass ceiling with great excitement for the future. Because the black trans women who will be standing here and I can imagine our Asian sisters, Latino sisters and Indigenous women, and I know that one day it will not be unusual or groundbreaking; it will just be ordinary,” he added.
Neal, who also talked about his contribution to his grandfather’s dreams in his speech, said that his grandfather, who was a Tuskegee aviator, graduated from Northwestern University at a time when black people were not allowed to be on the university campus. His grandfather, who stayed at a YMCA center because he couldn’t be on campus, returned to his hometown to become a teacher, but was unable to work because black people were not recruited in the school systems. Sharing this memory, Neal emphasized that he received the Oscar award in the name of his grandfather.
The miracles of two talented ladies were celebrated last night! Besides Neal, who designed 100 different wigs for the movie, the arrangements were also undertaken by Wilson, Viola Davis’ individual hairstylist. “African Americans are used to two different hair types,” Wilson told NPR. We do not prefer only one type of hair. We can handle it all. And now actors are raising their voices saying they want someone who can manage their hair. They need to bring in an African American hairdresser because there aren’t many hairstylists who feel comfortable doing African American people’s hair,” he said, explaining the reason for their success in the cinema.