|Written by||Matthew A. Cherry|
|Edited by||Nick Mantz|
Q. Bryce Randle
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
Hair Love is a 2019 American animated short film directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and Bruce W. Smith, and written by Cherry. It follows the story of a man who must do his daughter's hair for the first time, and features Issa Rae as the voice of the mother. The film was produced after a 2017 Kickstarter campaign, and was also released as a children's book in May 2019 with illustrations by Vashti Harrison. Hair Love received generally positive reviews and won Best Animated Short Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. A spin-off TV series titled Young Love was ordered by Max in July 2020 and premiered on September 21, 2023.
Seven-year-old Zuri unsuccessfully attempts to style her hair using a hair tutorial video made by her mother. Her father, Stephen, tries to style her hair himself and fails, upsetting Zuri. Zuri and Stephen then watch the video together and pull off the style. They enter a hospital room where her mother is wearing a scarf and sitting in a wheelchair. She removes her scarf to reveal that her head is completely bald, the result of chemotherapy for cancer. The family members hug each other and return home together.
Cherry stated that he was inspired to create Hair Love to counter stereotypes about Black fathers, because "Black fathers have had one of the worst raps in mainstream media as being portrayed as being deadbeats and not being involved.” He and Karen Rupert Toliver also stated that they wanted to increase representation of Black hair.
In 2017, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign for a short animated film called Hair Love. The film is about an African American dad who is attempting to style his young daughter Zuri's hair for the first time. The campaign surpassed its initial goal of $75,000 and raised over $300,000. According to Kickstarter, that exceeds the amount raised by any other short film project on the platform. He co-directed the film with Everett Downing and Bruce W. Smith, with Peter Ramsey and Pixar animator Frank Abney serving as executive producers. The film was co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver, whom Cherry approached for help.
On March 20, 2019, Sony Pictures Animation announced that they had picked up Hair Love, which was slated to be released theatrically later that year. Hair Love was storyboarded in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and animated in Toon Boom Harmony by Mondo Media under their 6 Point Harness label.
Hair Love was first shown in theaters alongside The Angry Birds Movie 2 on August 14, 2019, and was uploaded to YouTube four months later on December 5. The short was eventually attached to later prints of Jumanji: The Next Level beginning on January 24, 2020, and by the following month was also attached to screenings of Little Women. The film was also adapted into a children's book, written by Cherry and illustrated by artist Vashti Harrison, which was released by Dial Books on May 14, 2019. The book was on the New York Times Book Review Children's Best Sellers list.
On July 7, 2020, the streaming service Max ordered a 12-episode animated series titled Young Love with Cherry and Carl Jones serving as showrunners, to be produced by Sony Pictures Animation, Blue Key Entertainment and Lion Forge Animation. Issa Rae reprises her role as the mother. The series premiered on September 21, 2023.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Academy Awards||February 9, 2020||Best Animated Short Film||Matthew A. Cherry & Karen Rupert Toliver||Won|||
|Black Reel Awards||February 6, 2020||Outstanding Independent Short Film||Matthew A. Cherry||Won|||
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- Matthew A. Cherry [@MatthewACherry] (February 17, 2020). "Hair Love is playing before Little Women now too? Sheesh" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- HAIR LOVE by Matthew A. Cherry , Vashti Harrison | Kirkus Reviews.
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- "What's New on Max This September". Warner Bros. Discovery Pressroom (Press release). August 28, 2023. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
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