Former NFL-wide receiver turned writer/director Matthew A. Cherry created Hair Love, a 5 minute animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, Stephen, his daughter, Zuri and her hair.
Despite having long locks, Stephen has been used to his wife doing his daughter’s hair, so when she is unavailable right before a big event, Stephen will have to figure it out on his own. This sounds simple enough, but we soon come to find that Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own.
This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color. It is our hope that this project will inspire.
With nearly 73,000 followers on Twitter, Cherry began dropping hints about the project in early July when he posted a sketch of Zuri. On July 10, he created his Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the production of his film.
Their initial Kickstarter goal was set for 75K, but ended up raising $200K as posted on Cherry’s Twitter tonight.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) August 1, 2017
“I’m not a father yet, but I think you should respect women regardless of your connection to them,” Cherry says. “So the importance of this is pretty obvious. Any time a father can be in his child’s life, that’s a beautiful thing.”
Here is just one of the viral videos that inspired Hair Love:
“This year, I really started seeing more people sharing videos of Black fathers doing stuff with their kids,” Cherry commented. “I think a reason why all these Black father and daughter videos were hitting was because of what society has put out there. People think Black men aren’t in their kids’ lives — so when people do see the videos, they look at these as an anomaly.”
He continued, “On one hand, I’m happy seeing these videos, but on the other hand, it made me sad because I knew that a reason that these videos were going viral was because people didn’t think that was normal.
In the animation world, you don’t see a lot of representation of characters of color. They might fill a background role or sidekick, but you never really see a lot of lead characters of color. You want little girls to take pride in their natural hair, not feeling like they have to adhere to European standards of beauty.”
This is Cherry’s 3rd Kickstarter campaign. Previously, her directed two Live-action feature films: The Last Fall (watch below) and 9 Rides, both of which premiered at SXSW, as well as, two Live-action short films: This Time and Forward, in addition to many music videos.