“You have your whole life to go by the book and be predictable,” Carter told the audience at NCCU’s 134th Commencement Exercises on Dec. 14. “Follow your dreams, take chances and be unpredictable.”
Carter has received three Academy Award nominations and in February 2019, she earned the Oscar for best costume design for her work on the Marvel film Black Panther. She has worked on more than 40 films since she got her start in the mid-1980s.
NCCU awarded 489 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees and 11 law degrees during Saturday’s ceremonies. At the Graduate and Professional Ceremony, the university conferred 225 degrees, including 76 for Master of Science, 53 for Master of Arts and 31 for Master of Public Administration. There were 484 bachelor’s degrees were awarded, including 287 Bachelor of Science and 74 Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.
Speaking to the graduates, Carter described a pivotal moment in her career as a solo car trip to Los Angeles in the mid 1980s. Inspired by black authors such as James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, she was on the lookout for “rich and colorful” experiences she could use in her costume design work.
Not long after arriving in L.A., Carter, a graduate of Hampton University, met Spike Lee, an alumnus of Morehouse College. He asked her to work with him on 1988’s School Daze, kicking off Carter’s long and successful career.
Carter also urged graduates to mine their passions motivation in work and life, and to forge relationships with people who inspire them.