Metro Weekly

Oscar-winner Mia Neal hopes for a future where Black trans women winning awards is “normal”

The Ma Rainey's Black Bottom hairstylist is excited for a more diverse Academy Awards future

Jamika Wilson, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, ma rainey's black bottom, oscars
From left: Jamika Wilson, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, and Mia Neal during their acceptance speech at last night’s Oscars (ABC/AMPAS)

Mia Neal celebrated her historic Oscar win for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by hoping for a future where Black trans women can enjoy their own success on film’s biggest stage.

At last night’s 93rd Academy Awards, Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win the Oscar for best hair and makeup, alongside Sergio Lopez-Rivera.

Neal led the hairstyling department on Netflix’s film about Black queer blues icon Ma Rainey, while Wilson was star Viola Davis’ personal hairstylist and Lopez-Rivera her makeup artist.

During her acceptance speech, Neal acknowledged the historic nature of her win, but also hoped for a future where it would be “normal” to see Black trans women winning Oscars.

“I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, [and] were denied but never gave up,” Neal said. “I also stand here, as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future.

“Because I can picture Black 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,” she added. It will just be normal.”

Speaking to reporters after giving her speech, Neal added: “In moving forward, I’m just excited about the future because these conversations are taking place, these questions are being asked by reporters. I think that we all should be excited about what’s to come.”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was nominated for five awards, including Best Actor for the late Chadwick Boseman and Best Actress for Viola Davis.

In addition to Best Makeup and Hairstyling, the film also scooped Best Costume Design for veteran designer Ann Roth, making the 89-year-old the oldest woman to win an Oscar.

She tied with gay director and writer James Ivory, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at 89 for gay drama Call Me By Your Name.

Related: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom review: A fitting finale for Chadwick Boseman

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