Have you heard about or seen “Hair Love”? It is a heartwarming and critically acclaimed animated short film that former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry wrote, directed, and helped produce alongside Karen Rupert Toliver. The film was released in 2019 and received an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2020.
The story of “Hair Love” revolves around a young African American girl named Zuri and her father, Stephen. The film portrays their relationship and the challenges they face while trying to style Zuri’s hair. Zuri’s mother, who usually styles her hair, is unable to do so due to illness, leaving Stephen to take on the task.
The film explores themes of self-acceptance, love, and the importance of family bonds. It tackles the issue of natural hair and the societal pressures and expectations surrounding it, particularly for young girls. Through its endearing characters and heartfelt narrative, Hair Love promotes inclusivity, representation, and the celebration of diversity.
4,981 backers pledged $284,058 to help bring this project to life!
The project started with a Kickstarter.com campaign that gained significant attention and support, surpassing its initial funding goal. The film was produced by Sony Pictures Animation and released theatrically with the animated feature film “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in August 2019.
“I’ve had the idea for this project for a while, but it wasn’t until I started coming across a lot of viral videos of black fathers interacting with their sons and daughters online that I finally had the confidence to try and make this a real thing. Below are great examples of some of the great viral videos I have come across in the past year” mentioned Cherry on his post on the crowdsourcing platform.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Cherry added that his goal with “Hair Love” was twofold: He wanted the film to encourage kids to embrace their natural hair. He also wanted the film to portray the powerful images he had seen in those Internet videos but typically had not seen on screen, particularly when it came to animated films: black fathers who were deeply present in their children’s lives.
“Hair Love” resonated with audiences worldwide and received widespread acclaim for its relatable story, charming animation, and emotional depth. It has been praised for its positive portrayal of African American characters and its focus on fostering healthy relationships within families.
“We really just want to promote self-confidence in young people,” Cherry said to LA Weekly after winning the Oscar. “I really wanted something that when young girls see these Disney movies and they watch like ‘Frozen’ they want to be a princess too. But you don’t see yourself represented as the heroine or the love interest, or a strong person. And so for us, we want to have a young character in Zuri who loves her hair – she loves it”!
The picture book “Hair Love” was released by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House on May 14, 2019, and became a New York Times Bestseller and a spin-off TV series titled Young Love was ordered by HBO Max in July 2020. It is expected to premiere in late 2023.
At #MNHD we celebrate “Hair Love”, and we want its message to stay alive and be seen and shared with as many people as possible. So, help us do that by sharing this article and encouraging others to watch “Hair Love”
#MNHD Editorial Team