How Social Media Helped Land “Hair Love” Creator Matthew Cherry His First Oscar
Photo Credit: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: Director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver, winners of the Animated Short Film award for “Hair Love,” pose in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
In 2012, when former pro football player turned filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry tweeted “I’m gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claiming it,” who knew that in just a few years, his message would become a reality?
I'm gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claiming it
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 2, 2012
Cherry had an amazing idea for an animated short film that he felt was “Oscar-worthy” and on May 10, 2016, he took to Twitter to find a 3D animator that could bring his vision to life.
Any 3D artists follow me? I got an Oscar worthy short film idea to go with this image. Get at me 😳 pic.twitter.com/aj5IAzisJn
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) May 11, 2016
That film would later become Hair Love, a heartfelt animated short about an African American father’s struggle to do his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time. The film, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Animation in March 2019, would go on to screen before The Angry Birds 2 throughout the year before being released on YouTube for all to see.
Hair Love was met with rave reviews and on Sunday, February 9, 2020, it rightfully took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Short — just as Matthew Cherry manifested 8 years prior.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) February 10, 2020
It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, social media helped this film come to life. In 2017, Matthew A. Cherry took to Twitter to announce that he had launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to make his 2016 “Oscar-worthy” film a reality. This was his first attempt at making an animated film so Cherry called upon friends and social media followers for any small donation towards the film’s $75,000 goal.
“Through this project, it is my hope that we can show a positive image of black fathers and their daughters while encouraging natural hair and self-love throughout the world through the animated space,” Cherry said on his Kickstarter campaign.
Social media pulled through for the filmmaker and the $75K goal was reached. In an effort to give viewers the best quality possible, the goal was stretched to $120K, which was also met. Cherry and the team then extended the goal for a second time, this time making it $200K, they eventually raised $284,058 with the help of nearly 5,000 backers.
“The more we raise, the more people we can hire to work on it. We are aiming to do it in the same vein as other Pixar animated, short films, and as we all know animation is more costly than traditional live-action projects and every little bit helps,” Cherry said via his Kickstarter.
And make it Pixar-level, they did. With voiceover help from Issa Rae, and backing from Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, and the entire Black Twitterverse, Hair Love has become the project we can all be proud of.
Watch the Oscar-winning short film below and follow Matthew A. Cherry on Twitter to keep up with future projects.