The two are part of the team that did makeup and hair for the acclaimed Netflix film starring Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman

By Nigel Smith and Nicholas Rice
April 25, 2021 09:25 PM
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MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Credit: ABC

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday night becoming the first Black women to win Best Makeup and Hairstyling category for their work on Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

The two are part of the team that did makeup and hair for the acclaimed Netflix film starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, who are both up for Oscars.

When the nominations were announced in March, the pair also made history as the first Black women to be nominated for the award.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the 2021 Oscars. 

Speaking after the pair's win, Neal began her speech by thanking her "ancestors" with a sweet and resonating message.

"I was raised by my grandfather, James Holland. He was an original Tuskegee Airmen. He represented the U.S. in the first Pan Am games, he went to Argentina, he met Evita," she began. "He graduated from Northwestern University at a time that they did not allow Blacks to stay on campus so he stayed at the YMCA. And after all of his accomplishments, he went back to his hometown in hopes of becoming a teacher, but they did not hire Blacks in the school system."

(2020) ma raineys black bottom
Credit: David Lee/Netflix

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

Then, noting that she cannot wait to watch other women succeed in the future, Neal continued, "I know that one day it won't be unusual or groundbreaking, it would just be normal."

Neal then wrapped up her message, thanking an array of those involved in the project, including Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and "the spirit of Ma Rainey."

Neal is known for her work on The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Uncut Gems (2019). Wilson has worked on Widows (2018) and How to Get Away with Murder (2014). 

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Neal spoke with Variety when her nomination was first revealed, saying, "I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be honored by such a prestigious committee. 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."

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is based on August Wilson's 1982 play about the "Mother of Blues" Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her experience with white management at the time.

The Netflix movie takes place in 1927 Chicago and explores the racial tension in the music world as white record executives profited off of Black artists.

The 93rd Academy Awards are airing live on Sunday, April 25 starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.