‘Hair Love’ Wins Oscar & Teen Hair Activist Was There for the Historic Night


If you manifest your truth and put your desires out there for the world to know — it will happen. Eight years ago, Matthew A. Cherry wrote on Twitter, “I’m gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claiming it.” Then three years later, the former NFL player tweeted, “Any 3D artists follow me? I got an Oscar-worthy short film idea to go with this image. Get at me.” Last night, he made all those manifestations come true when his short film Hair Love, which won Best Animated Short. 

His producer Karen Rupert Toliver also made the night a historic one as she is the first black producer to win in that category. The film centers around a relationship between father and his young daughter. Audiences follow along as he figures out how to brush her hair and also how to show her that her black hair is beautiful. 

During his acceptance speech, Cherry and Toliver spoke about the importance of diversity, especially in animated works because those are the first films that young people are exposed to. These animated movies are what shapes their minds, so it’s essential to have proper representation. 

“We really went into this with the intention of helping normalize black hair,” he said. “In a lot of ways, black hair is policed, and even nowadays you can’t wear your hair certain ways depending on what job you have.” He also paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. “This award is dedicated to Kobe,” Cherry said. “May we all have a second act as great as his was.”

Cherry also made a poignant stance by inviting Deandre Arnold, a Texas 17-year-old high school student who was told he couldn’t attend graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks. Arnold hit the Oscar red carpet and looked flawless in his tux and dreads. 

“It means the world to us to have him here with us,” Cherry said, according to the New York Post. “We wanted people to see how good of a kid he is, but also there’s no reason people should be policing our hair.”

So to all those inspiring creatives of color, let Cherry be proof that with determination, manifestation, and some Kickstarter funds, anything is possible, especially if you have a beautiful story to tell. We can’t wait to see what Cherry does next.

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