The short film Hair Love made a major statement for representation when it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at Oscars 2020.
The film which was directed by Matthew A. Cherry, is about a young girl named Zuri and her father, who work together to figure out how to style her hair. It’s shows love between a father and daughter, plus a testament to embracing who you are and celebrating yourself.
“It was a labor of love, and it was because we have a firm belief that representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons,” said Hair Love producer Karen Rupert Toliver shared in the acceptance speech.
“Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation,” Matthew added. “We wanted to normalize black hair. There’s a very important issue that’s out there — the Crown Act — and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states, it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, who’s our special guest tonight, stop happening.” Cherry went on to dedicate the award to the late Kobe Bryant.
The Crown Act “ensures protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles.” DeAndre is a Texas teenager who was told he couldn’t walk at graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks, and was later invited to the Oscars by Gabrielle Union and the Hair Love team.
The win is a much-deserved achievement for positive representation of black hair and black fathers in animated films, and it seems its director knew he was going to create something so important one day. BuzzFeed pointed out that Cherry predicted his win all the way back in 2012, when he tweeted that he was going to win an Oscar someday.