Hair Love, the film that encourages self-acceptance, soon to be an animated series

© Hair Love

Directed by Matthew A. Cherry and co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver, this seven-minute animated short film took home an Oscar last February. This cinematic gem owes its success to the originality of its subject matter, as well as the big splash it made on social media.

The story is centered on a little girl named Zuri, whose unruly hair her daddy, Stephen, is having all the trouble in the world to tame. With her mother, Angela, away receiving treatment for cancer, Zuri is counting on her daddy to help her look presentable for their special visit to the hospital. With a bit of patience and some video tutorial support provided by Angela, in the end Stephen manages to get Zuri’s hair in beautiful order, much to his daughter’s delight.   

Beyond prejudice

Through the tenderness of this daddy-daughter relationship, the director, a former professional hockey player, turns certain stereotypes on their head. First, the preconceived notion that fathers, particularly Black fathers, are “good for nothing” and “never present.” The film took inspiration from the many videos circulating online that depict the loving partnership between fathers and daughters. 

Another stereotype overturned: the notion that Afro-textured hair is a lost cause. Scrolling on her tablet through the many vlogs posted by her mother—who is now bald due to her cancer treatment—Zuri shows us the full potential of her magnificent frizzy mop. This is Cherry’s way of paying tribute to the beauty of Afro hair, a community point of pride and symbol of identity reappropriation.    

A viral sensation

Heartfelt and funny, Hair Love is the visual product of two world-class animators, both formerly of Disney-Pixar’s studio: Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith. On the voice talent side, we have actress, director, and producer Issa Rae—whose real name is Jo-Issa Rae Diop; known from the web series Awkward Black Girl—who lends her voice to the character of Angela. 

A co-production of Sony Pictures, Hair Love was financed in part by a 2017 Kickstarter campaign that raised over $200,000: a record on the crowdfunding platform for most money raised by a short film project! Since it went online in December of 2019, the short has been viewed more than 30 million times on YouTube alone.

Before making its screen debut, Hair Love was first released as a children’s book in May of 2019, authored by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. 

A TV series

Now HBO Max has ordered a 12-episode season titled  “Young Love,” a 2D animated program based on this family film, that will expand the storyline.

  • I vaguely remember this you tube hhair love but will search for it because i have 4c hair too and love it.

    by Candida Dawkins

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