Animated Short 'Hair Love' To Debut in Theaters in August

A short film about an African American father learning to style his daughter’s hair is set to premiere in theaters before The Angry Birds Movie 2.

The film, titled “Hair Love,” was produced by Lion Forge Animation, a new studio created by Polarity, as a way to help diversify its creative voices. The short film, which was directed by Matthew A. Cherry, will appear alongside the children’s film The Angry Birds Movie 2 in theaters on August 14, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

The animated movie is a five-minute film that tells the story of Stephen and his daughter, Zuri, according to Cherry’s website. Used to having his wife style their daughter’s hair, Stephen has to figure out how to do it on his own before a big event when his wife is unavailable. He realizes it is a bigger challenge than he imagined after discovering that Zuri’s hair “has a mind of its own.”

“This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color. It is our hope that this project will inspire,” Cherry’s website states.

The short was funded through a Kickstarter campaign back in 2017 that raised $284,058 out of its $75,000 goal after the fundraiser went viral. Cherry also released a children’s book in May that follows the same story.

“To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” Cherry said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “I couldn’t be more excited for ‘Hair Love’ to be playing with The Angry Birds Movie 2 in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

The final version of the film, created in collaboration with Sony Pictures, was produced by Cherry, Karen Rupert Toliver, Monica A. Young, and Stacey Newton along with David Steward II and Carl Reed of Lion Forge Animation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Executive producers of the film include Jordan Peele, Peter Ramsey, Frank Abney, Yara and Keri Shahidi, and many more. Actress Issa Rae is also in the film and is featured as the voice of Zuri’s mother.

“With Lion Forge Animation, our goal remains in line with what we accomplished in publishing; to showcase a variety of authentic voices and experiences through our work, whether created internally or through partnership with top talent,” Steward said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Matthew’s vision for this project checked all of these boxes, and is a heartfelt authentic story that rings true to so many in the African American community, especially those of us who are fathers with daughters of our own.”

Reed, Lion Forge’s chief creative officer, said in a statement to the publication that he was immediately drawn to Cherry’s story and the project because he has an eight-year-old daughter with 3B hair.

“This film presents such a unique perspective on such a common part of our daily experience, providing a rare onscreen moment for African American parents to connect with. Matthew A. Cherry has given us an uplifting, positive view of black families; and thanks to Sony Pictures Animation running this theatrically, one that we will have an opportunity to share with the world,” Reed said.

Over the past year, there has been an increase in movies and television shows for children that celebrate diversity. In July, PBS premiered a new national children’s TV show with a Native American lead titled “Molly of Denali.” The show features a 10-year-old Athabascan girl named Molly Mabray who runs her own video blog about her life in rural Alaska. The series will follow Molly, her dog, Suki, and her friends, Tooey and Triny, on their adventures in Alaska.

“PBS KIDS programming is rooted in education and inclusion, and we are always looking for new ways to highlight the many different communities that make up America,” Linda Simensky, Vice President, Children’s Programming, PBS, said in a previous statement. “With Molly of Denali, we’re building on that commitment. We believe this series will provide more kids with the opportunity to see themselves represented in our programming and are excited to engage all kids with the culture and traditions of Alaska Native peoples.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.