This hair story is about Hair Love, an animated short film and picture book by Matthew A. Cherry with illustrations by Vashti Harrison. Hair Love is a celebration of dads, daughters, love, and natural hair. Cherry, a former NFL wide receiver turned filmmaker, director, and author sought to combat a negative stereotype that seems to persist with each generation when it comes to Black dads, living and raising their children in America. [Source:Essence]. With a successful Kickstarter campaign, followed by a partnership with Sony Pictures Animation, and a publishing deal with Penguin Books, Hair Love the film debuts in late summer, and you can purchase the Hair Love picture book now.
Check out the backstory. You’ll appreciate and applaud Hair Love even more.
Author Matthew A. Cherry wants young African American girls and fathers to see themselves represented not only in children’s books but in animation as well.
A few years ago, former NFL player-turned-filmmaker, Matthew A. Cherry noticed a plethora of viral videos of young African American fathers styling their daughter’s natural hair and bonding with them in gender nonconforming ways.
The videos were far more popular than similiar social videos about black fathers connecting with their sons. And that struck Cherry as intersting. Cherry said thousands of users engaged with the videos because people “think this is an anomaly and they have never seen this before.”
“I saw this as a double-edge sword and wanted to normalize it,” Cherry said.
After analyzing the wave of videos, Cherry took to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in the summer of 2017 to gain monetary support to create an animated short film about a young black father doing his daughter’s hair for the first time.
Within the first six days of the “Hair Love” film campaign, Cherry exceeded the initial goal of $75,000. And by the end of the 30-day funding period, the drive went on to set today’s record as the highest funded animated short film campaign It raised over $280,000.
Out of the film came the children’s book Hair Love. The book features Zuri, the go-getter preschooler who thinks her big and fluffy hair is magical. And Stephen, the 20-something working father who is committed to his daughter even if it means watching YouTube to learn how to do her textured hair.
Cherry collaborated with Harrison to develop every aspect of both characters. Cherry said he imagined Zuri’s dad as the type of guy people would stereotype. Stephen has a noticeable tattoo on his right arm and wears shoulder length dreadlocks.
“We really wanted him to be a representative of the new wave of young black fathers who may look a certain way, but when it comes to their kids they would do anything for them,” Cherry said.
Growing up in the small town of Onley, Virginia, Harrison said she remembers wanting to have braids or other popular African American hairstyles, but she was too scared to ask her mother for them because she did not want the style to draw additional attention to her skin tone, especially since she was one of a few black people in the city.
Harrison said she is elated to illustrate a story about black hair because celebrating natural hair was something she did not see growing up.
Thank you, Matthew A. Cherry! We’re indebted to and inspired by your Hair Love journey celebrating positive images of men and children, especially young girls, of color.
If you enjoyed this hair story about Hair Love or have curl confession to share, we welcome your feedback in the comments section of this post. We also remind you to #AskKarlinesSalon about the proper care for all types and texture of hair. We’re just a call (561-471-0900) or click away.
Photo credit: Matthew A. Cherry Kickstarter Campaign