Chicago Filmmaker Wins Oscar for “Hair Love” & Brings Special Guest Teen On The Red
Chicago filmmaker Matthew Cherry took home the Oscar for best animated short film for “Hair Love,” a six-minute short film about an African American father attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.
Matthew and the “Hair Love” team brought the Texas high school teen DeAndre Arnold who’s story has recently gone viral in the news for refusing to cut his locs. DeAndre was suspended for wearing dreadlocks and told he couldn’t attend his graduation ceremony in the spring unless he cut them in accordance with school dress code. Arnold, who has been growing his hair in locs since the seventh grade, has said that his hairstyle —rooted in Black pride, culture and sometimes religion — is a nod to his Trinidadian heritage.
As a surprise to Arnold, Cherry teamed up with Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade (who helped produce this short film) to create a special video invitation for the Texas teen. On Oscar Sunday, DeAndre walked the red carpet and attended the full Oscar’s ceremony along with the “Hair Love” team. During the acceptance of their award, Matthew directed the following statement to DeAndre and the crowd saying, “I want to say “Hair Love” was done to normalize black hair.”
Alongside co-producer Karen Rupert Toliver, Cherry who also directed and co-wrote the film gave tribute to Kobe Bryant saying, “May all our second acts be as great as his”. Bryant and Glen Keane won the best animated short film Oscar in 2018 for “Dear Basketball.”
When speaking of the inspiration behind the short film, Matthew shares his personal story. As a former NFL player and graduate of Loyola Academy in Wilmette and the University of Akron, Matthew shared: “You have a situation where Mom may have to go into work early and Dad has to get the kids ready. The gender norms that existed back in the day aren’t really the same as they are now.
“I feel like everyone has to step up and get it done. Black fathers have had one of the worst raps in mainstream media as being portrayed as being deadbeats and not being involved.”
“It was important to us to showcase a black father that was young, that had tattoos. I think if you saw someone like him on the street, you would assume that wasn’t a loving father that does his daughter’s hair,” Cherry said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re just trying to change the conversation, one project at a time.”
“Our hair is an extension of ourselves,” Cherry previously told HuffPost speaking about the short film. “And the cool thing about this story is that it really represents pure love: what we’re willing to do for the people we love even when they ask us to do something we don’t know how to do.”