It’s nothing but Oscar love for Hair Love.
The animated short film that found plenty of praise on social media and was championed by some big-name stars won the Oscar for Best Animated Short on Sunday night.
“Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said in his acceptance speech. 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 picture, from BlacKkKlansman executive producer and former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry, follows a father who attempts to master styling his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time. It made waves 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 bringing in more than $280,000. Hair Love was later turned into a bestselling children’s book, released in early 2019.
The film was beloved by fans on social media for telling at once a universal story about parental love and a tale specific to black experiences. It earned raves 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, many producers. Hair Love made its North America theatrical debut on Aug. 14, playing ahead of The Angry Birds Movie 2.
“To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” Cherry said in an August press statement. “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.”
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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.
Sunday’s win means Cherry not only made good on his 2012 vow to be nominated for an Oscar one day — he can now count himself as a winner.
In its category, Hair Love beat out Dcera, Kitbull, Memorable, and Sister.
Sony Pictures also made the short available for free on YouTube back in December, and it’s since notched nearly 15 million views. Watch it below:
- See the full list of Oscar winners
- Viral animated short Hair Love to make theatrical debut with Angry Birds Movie 2
- See the 2020 Academy Award nominees’ first appearances at the Oscars