Movie Style: Selma

I am an ENTHUSIASTIC viewer of the Golden Globes. Every year, I take to the couch and limber up my fingers in preparation– this night is Twitter intensive. I have tons of opinions and dammit, I’m going to share them. This year, my dog in the movie race was the powerful and utterly moving, Selma. 

I had my reasons for going hard in the paint for Selma.

  1. Harpo Films. Oprah executive produces it? I’m there.
  2. Common. I’m afraid that if I have to explain this to you, than our relationship may be in trouble.
  3. Carmen Ejogo. I don’t have any explanation. I just kind of love her.
  4. David Oyelwolo. British accent. Beautiful man.
  5. Ava DuvernayRead this article, dare yourself not to cry and then you will have my explanation.
  6. An amazingly compelling and heart-wrenching true story.

The movie could not have come out at a more opportune  time. 2014 brought a lot of pain particularly in the heart of minds of many Black Americans. Violent reactions from those sworn to serve and protect brought upon Black boys and men committing either minor offenses or occasionally, just living their lives, has become an unfortunately commonplace scenario. Revisiting the events of Bloody Sunday at this point in history was, for me, almost too much to bear.

As I’ve talked about before, fashion has always been political in the African-American community, and in Selma, the appearance and dress of the characters played an essential role of conveying not only the times but the sensibilities of the people represented and their ideology.

Costume designer Ruth Carter intentionally dressed Common’s James Bevel in the denim overalls that were generally found worn by the younger and more radical members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She chose to dress this one character in denim in order to pay homage to the history, but not distract from the story.


Diane Nash (Tessa Thompson) and James Bevel (Common).


Coretta Scott King, played by my girl Carmen, was always dressed beautifully, both as a representation of the real Mrs. King’s elegance as well as a representation of many of the Black women of that era, where dress and grooming were of the utmost importance in a world where they, at times, have little control.


David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in “Selma”‘s final march.


Having worked as a costume designer  and being an image consultant myself, the power of costume on stage and screen is not lost on me but after reading the words of designer Ruth Carter, I’m looking forward to re-watching and re-visiting the costumes with my new context. Read Carter’s interview with The Root here.


Coretta ties Martin’s cravat before his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance. He expresses uncertainty at the fussiness of the neck piece.




The diversity, ethnic and religious, of the protesters is poignant as they march toward the violence of “Bloody Sunday”.


Have you seen Selma? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


  1. FASHION du jour
    January 13, 2015 / 11:44 am

    Love how you incorporated style into this! #BLMGirls

    • kerriestella
      January 13, 2015 / 4:40 pm

      Thank you, Leslie! It came to me as I was watching the movie. i stuck my hand in my bag and typed out the idea on my phone. Tacky, but true.

      • FASHION du jour
        January 13, 2015 / 4:58 pm

        brilliant! When driving I tend to talk out my ideas into my voicememos on my phone. Then I email it to myself so I don’t have to type it in. LOL Do what you have to do!

    • Kerri Estella
      January 14, 2015 / 11:26 pm

      Thanks, Olivia

  2. January 13, 2015 / 10:08 pm

    I haven’t but I am definitely going to. I think every American needs to see and understand what we life was like so we can truly appreciate what we now have. BLM Girls rock!

    • Kerri Estella
      January 14, 2015 / 11:25 pm

      It truly was a terrific movie. I agree whole-heartedly; I consider it must see viewing! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  3. Pingback: Selma: Movie Style
  4. January 14, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    I love how you described the fashion and style! I am a big fan of the actors and director and cant believe I have not seen this yet! Soon!

    • Kerri Estella
      January 15, 2015 / 1:25 pm

      Thank you, Nadeen! You must go, it’s 100% worthwhile.

  5. January 14, 2015 / 10:10 pm

    Thanks for the insights. You have inspired me to go back to the movie and see it through the eyes of the costume designer.

  6. January 15, 2015 / 4:43 pm

    This is one movie that I most definitely want to see. I am so proud of Harpo for producing quality programming and be acknowledged for it!

  7. Van
    January 14, 2018 / 3:20 pm

    Very well written, Kerri. It’s great to be able to read an article that makes its point and is professionally done, too. Your insight then, and now, adds a little flavor. Your parents, teachers, everyone should be proud.

    • January 26, 2018 / 10:13 pm

      Thank you so much. This is truly one of the nicest and most thoughtful comments I have ever received!

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