Hair Love

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Hair Love
Directed by
Written byMatthew A. Cherry
Produced by
StarringIssa Rae
Edited byNick Mantz
Q. Bryce Randle
Illya Owens
Music by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
Running time
6 minutes
CountryUnited States

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.[1][2][3][4]


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.”[6] He and Karen Rupert Toliver also stated that they wanted to increase representation of Black hair.[5]

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.[7] 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.[7] He co-directed the film with Everett Downing and Bruce W. Smith, with Peter Ramsey and Pixar animator Frank Abney serving as executive producers.[8] The film was co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver, whom Cherry approached for help.[5]

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.[7] Hair Love was storyboarded in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and animated in Toon Boom Harmony by Mondo Media under their 6 Point Harness label.[9]


Hair Love was first shown in theaters alongside The Angry Birds Movie 2 on August 14, 2019,[10] and was uploaded to YouTube four months later on December 5.[11] The short was eventually attached to later prints of Jumanji: The Next Level beginning on January 24, 2020,[12] and by the following month was also attached to screenings of Little Women.[13] 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.[14] The book was on the New York Times Book Review Children's Best Sellers list.[15]

TV series[edit]

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.[16] The series premiered on September 21, 2023.[17][4][18]


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 [19][20]
Black Reel Awards February 6, 2020 Outstanding Independent Short Film Matthew A. Cherry Won [21]


  1. ^ Yahr, Emily (2020-01-13). "Oscar nominations 2020: 'Joker' leads with 11; Greta Gerwig snubbed for best director; complete list of nominees". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  2. ^ "Hair Love" wins Best Animated Short Film-Oscars on YouTube
  3. ^ 2020|
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c Butler, Bethonie. "How 'Hair Love' went from a beloved Kickstarter project to an Oscar-nominated animated short". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  6. ^ Nunzio, Miriam Di (2020-02-09). "Matthew Cherry feels the 'Love' with Oscar win". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  7. ^ a b c Patten, Dominic (2019-03-20). "Sony Animation Picks Up 'Hair Love' Short From 'BlacKkKlansman' EP Matthew A. Cherry". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  8. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (August 11, 2019). "Lion Forge Animation Debuts with 'Hair Love' Partnership". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  9. ^ "Untangling black representation with Hair Love's Matthew A. Cherry". Archived from the original on 2020-04-30. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  10. ^ "Viral animated short Hair Love to make theatrical debut with Angry Birds Movie 2". August 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Seigh, Steve (December 5, 2019). "Sony's new Hair Love animated short is a heart-breaking ode to parenting". Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Sony Pictures Animation [@SonyAnimation] (January 24, 2020). "All smiles. #HairLove is now playing in select theaters in the US and Canada with #Jumanji: The Next Level" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Matthew A. Cherry [@MatthewACherry] (February 17, 2020). "Hair Love is playing before Little Women now too? Sheesh" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ HAIR LOVE by Matthew A. Cherry , Vashti Harrison | Kirkus Reviews.
  15. ^ "Children's Picture Books - Best Sellers - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  16. ^ "HBO Max Orders 'Young Love' Animated Series Based on 'Hair Love' Short Film by Matthew A Cherry". The Wrap. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  17. ^ Taylor, Drew (December 29, 2022). "Sony Pictures Animation's Bold Past, Present and Future". The Wrap. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  18. ^ "What's New on Max This September". Warner Bros. Discovery Pressroom (Press release). August 28, 2023. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  19. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2020 Announcement Date & Time". Oscars. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  20. ^ Director Matthew A. Cherry Earns First Oscar Nomination For ‘Hair Love,’ Aiming To ‘Normalize’ Black Families With 2D Animated Short - Yahoo! Entertainment
  21. ^ Morales, Wilson (December 11, 2019). "20th Annual Black Reel Awards - Nominees Announced". Black Film. Archived from the original on December 13, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2020.

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