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'Everybody benefits from diversity': 'Ma Rainey' hair team on making Oscars history

The stylists were emotional about their historic victory.
/ Source: TODAY

Hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson just became the first Black winners of the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling for their work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” They reflected on their historic win backstage after picking up their statues.

“I think that everybody benefits from diversity. Everyone does,” said Neal, who shares the Oscar with Wilson and makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera. “I also think that everybody wants it, to be honest.

Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson and Sergio Lopez-Rivera celebrate the historic win.Chris Pizzello / AFP - Getty Images

“I think that time has sped up, in a way, in terms of technology and just people being more connected, also people not being afraid to speak up,” she added. “I think that things are happening, and I think it’s being well received. That’s the beauty of it, is that I don’t sense any resistance.”

The stylists shared an emotional moment backstage.Richard Harbaugh/ / A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

The hair and makeup trio helped Viola Davis transform into blues singer Ma Rainey in the Netflix drama, which also won for best costume design. It was the last film that Chadwick Boseman starred in before he died of colon cancer last August. He was nominated for best actor but lost to Anthony Hopkins.

In December, Lopez-Rivera shared a behind-the-scenes Instagram pic of himself and Wilson styling Davis during filming.

Reflecting on their win, Neal said that it paves the way for other Black artists to be recognized for their talent.

“Because then we don’t have to really be the Black people who won, you know what I mean? It can be Jamika and Mia,” she said. “We can be individuals at that point, and so that’s why I said we all benefit from it.”

The “Ma Rainey” hair and makeup team were among several people who made history as 2021 Oscar winners. “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman and the first woman of color to win best director. Youn Yuh-jung also became the first Korean actor to win an Oscar for her supporting role in “Minari.”

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