Man, what an incredible ride it’s been for the short animated film “Hair Love.”
Today, we’re proud to say that its director, Matthew A. Cherry, and producer, Karen Rupert Toliver, are officially Oscar winners, taking home the gold statue for Best Animated Short.
“We have so many people that worked hard on this, it was a labor of love. We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons because in cartoons and movies it’s how we shape our lives and how we see the world,” Rupert Toliver said on the podium.
Cherry used his brief time to raise awareness around the need to pass a federal CROWN Act that would make it illegal for people to be fired or suspended from school because of how they choose to wear their natural hair. Currently, the only states to have passed their own version of the CROWN Act are California, New York, and New Jersey.
“Hair Love was done so to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize Black hair. There’s a very important issue out there, it’s called the CROWN Act and we can help get this passed in all 50 states and help stories like Deandre Arnold, who’s our special guest tonight, to stop that [from happening,” Cherry said.
He concluded with dedicating his award to the late Kobe Bryant.
“May we all have a second act as great as his was.”
Deandre Arnold, the teen mentioned in Cherry’s speech, was invited to attend the Oscars by the Hair Love team, including Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade after news hit that the 17-year-old was suspended from Texas’ Barber Hill High School because of his dreads. Even his graduation status is being threatened because of the dress code policy his school has in place.
So yes, this film’s theme of “normalizing Black hair” definitely speaks to Arnold’s plight.
As I wrote before, there’s something incredibly beautiful and reminiscent about “Hair Love.” Centered on a Black father and his precocious daughter, Zuri, the two take an incredible journey into styling the little girl’s hair for a special event. Oh, and it’s Daddy’s first time with the comb and hair grease.
This little slice of life will bring many of us back to the times when our fathers or father figures had to take on this task with our crown and glories. (I was about four when my Pops had to do my hair because my Mom went out of town. It was definitely a hot mess, but I know in my heart he did his best.)
Now prior to now, over the summer “Hair Love” was seen in theaters, opening for The Angry Birds 2. But Cherry’s love letter to Black hair and Black families is finally available online for all our girls to see in the comfort of their own homes!
Take a look, and yes you will cry:
Of course, Black Twitter was excited for this win!
Take a look: