Matthew A. Cherry won his first Oscar on Sunday for the animated short film “Hair Love,” which tells a story of a black father learning to do his daughter’s hair. It was a victory he appeared to predict himself nearly four years ago.
“Nailed it,” Cherry tweeted, sharing a post from May 2016 in which he called out for artists about an “Oscar worthy” idea.
“Hair Love” was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair,” he said.
Producer Karen Rupert Toliver said the filmmakers believe “representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons.”
“In cartoons, that’s when we first see our movies and it’s how we shape our lives and think about how we see the world,” she said after accepting the award for best animated short film.
Hair Love And The Crown Act
In his remarks, Cherry called for federal passage of the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, a California law that prohibits discrimination based on hair style or texture. New York and New Jersey have also passed the CROWN Act, and other states are considering similar legislation, according to the CROWN Coalition, a network of civil rights and advocacy groups. Cherry said he hoped the legislation could prevent stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, the black Texas teen who was told his long dreadlocks violated the high school district’s dress code. DeAndre was invited to the Oscars by Mathew Cherry and the Hair love team.
After receiving the Oscar nomination for his vision, Cherry said; “If you focus on how you’re affecting the culture and you’re affecting change, the awards and things like that will come in. Even if they don’t come, you’re still doing great work.”
“Hair Love” is a sweet and joyful story about an African-American father learning to style his daughter’s natural hair in his wife’s absence. The film uses words sparingly; the characters’ gestures and expressions take viewers through the father’s commonplace but poignant endeavor.
One of the film’s messages — embracing and loving your natural hair — was transported to the ceremony itself on Sunday. The actress Gabrielle Union and the former N.B.A. champion Dwyane Wade, married producers of “Hair Love,”