Hair Love, a short film directed by Everett Downing Jr, Matthew Cherry and Bruce W. Smith, has won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Animation) at the 2020 Academy Awards. The film tells the heartfelt story of an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. Young Zuri wakes up remembering that today is a special day on the calendar, marked with a heart. But before she and her dad can head out, she needs to pull her hair into a style she’s comfortable with, inspired by the work of her mother, a natural hair style vlogger. Dad tries his hand as a hair stylist but is beaten by the vibrancy of his daughter’s hair. It’s Zuri’s mother that provides the needed guidance and encouragement, via her online films. Eventually Zuri and her dad meet up with mom at the hospital, where she’s been receiving treatment for cancer.
The picture book “Hair Love” was released by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House on May 14, 2019, and became a New York Times Bestseller. Matthew Cherry and illustrator Vashti Harrison about the thinking behind the book.
Hair Love Credits
Animation was directed by executive producer Matthew A. Cherry, with animator Everett Downing Jr and creator Bruce W Smith, editors Nick Mantz, Illya Owens and Q. Bryce Randle, producers Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young, Matthew A. Cherry, David Steward II and Carl Reed, executive producers Peter Ramsey and Frank Abney, co-executive producers Jordan Peele, Andrew Hawkins, Harrison Barnes, Yara and Keri Shahidi, associate producers N’Dambi Gillespie, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Dwayne Wade Jr., Gabourey Sidibe, Stephanie Fredric, Claude Kelly.
Music was composed by Paul Mounsey and Daniel D. Crawford, with Taylor Graves.
The Hair Love project is a collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation that was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 with a fundraising goal of $75,000. Strong support led to the campaign amassing nearly $300,000, making it the most highly-funded short film campaign in Kickstarter history.
Production partners were Sony Animation, Lion Forge Animation, Chasing Miles and Matthew A. Cherry Entertainment.
Issa Rae, who provides the voice of Zuri’s mother, was the star of her own Youtube series Awkward Black Girl, 2011 – 2013. She went on to write for and star in the HBO TV series, Insecure.