In his acceptance speech, Matthew A. Cherry said. “Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair.” He also dedicated his award to Kobe Bryant, who died Jan. 26, saying, “May we all have a second act as great as his was.”
The short follows a father who attempts to master styling his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time. It made headlines when it broke Kickstarter’s record for short-film financing. In 2017, the project aimed to raise $75,000 to fund production but ended up reigning in more than $280,000. Hair Love also turned into a bestselling children’s book, released in early 2019.
It earned praise from celebrities like Jordan Peele, Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Issa Rae (who lent her voice to the film as Zuri’s mother), Yara Shahidi, and Gabourey Sidibe, who are among the short’s many producers. Hair Love made its North America theatrical debut on Aug. 14, playing ahead of The Angry Birds Movie 2.
In an August press statement, Cherry said. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true. I couldn’t be more excited for Hair Love to be playing with The Angry Birds Movie 2 in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”
Cherry directed the film alongside animators Everett Downing Jr. (Up, WALL-E) and Bruce W. Smith, who created the animated Disney Channel series The Proud Family. Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Frank Abney (Toy Story 4) served as executive producers.
In its category, Hair Love won against Dcera, Kitbull, Memorable, and Sister.
Sony Pictures also made the short available for free on YouTube back in December. Since then it earned almost 15 million views.