Makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera, hair department head Mia Neal, and Viola Davis' personal hairstylist, Jamika Wilson, took home the statue for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, with the latter pairing becoming the first-ever Black stylists to win in the category. Neal took the lead for the acceptance speech, thanking the Academy, Netflix, Davis, and "the spirit of Ma Rainey."
"I want to thank our ancestors who put the work in and were denied, but never gave up," Neal said, recalling the struggles of her grandfather, James Holland. An original Tuskegee airman, he graduated from Northwestern University when they didn't allow Black students to stay on campus and struggled to find work as a teacher in an education system that didn't welcome Black teachers.
"I 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, our Asian sisters, our Latina sisters and Indigenous women. And I know one day it won't be unusual or groundbreaking -- it will just be normal."
Neal continued speaking to inclusivity being necessary for the film industry in the press room, telling The Root she believes "everybody" benefits from diversity.
"I also think everybody wants it to be honest... I think that time has kinda sped up, in terms of technology and people being more connected and people not being afraid to speak up," she added. "So I think that things are happening and I think it's being well-received, you know, that's the beauty of it. I don't sense any resistance. That's why I said I'm excited about the future because these conversations are taking place, these questions are being asked by reporters, you know, and so I think that we all should be excited about what's to come."
Davis' Ma Rainey performance has earned her critical acclaim throughout awards season and her dramatic transformation for the role was inspired by several scant photos found of the Mother of the Blues.
"They say she always looked like she was dripping in sweat, all the time," Davis told ET in October. The blood and tears are Davis', but "the sweat is from my makeup artist."
In an interview with Vulture, Lopez-Rivera explained that because they wanted to stay away from prosthetics, "the challenges became very organic" concerning keeping the singer's signature sweaty greasepaint consistent throughout production. With the film's use of close-ups and focused shots, Wilson noted that the perspiration became "an incredible character in and of itself."