When the visuals for Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love came across our computer screen, we rejoiced at imagery that showed a Black father and daughter in such a positive light. It was the representation we rarely see, even if it is a cartoon.
Hair Love, an animated short film about a father who takes on the battle of doing his daughter’s hair, will premiere ahead of The Angry Birds 2 movie in theaters this weekend, broadcasting the image in front of millions of children and families.
We caught up with director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Peter Ramsey, who both opened up about creating the animated short and why it is important for all to see.
What inspired you to create Hair Love?
Matthew: I was seeing a lot of viral videos of African-American dads doing their daughter’s hair hitting the timeline and I always like to share family friendly stuff like that. They were going extra viral, 100K retweets, and I would always share videos of moms interacting with their kids too and it would do OK but never as big as that. Obviously they were cute videos but I would come to learn later that part of it was that people weren’t used to seeing these images of African-American fathers doing these type of interactions with their kids (especially when the hair would be moving and breaking rubber bands and hitting dad in the eye). The idea of hair having a mind of its own was the linchpin that created this idea.
How does it feel to finally have your work being shown on such a massive platform after so much work to get it made and funded?
Matthew: It’s kind of surreal. This literally started with an idea through Kickstarter and for it to be a New York Times best-selling book and now about to be in theaters across the country is pretty crazy. It’s definitely surreal. I just really hope that it inspires other creators. I think we waste so much time reaching out to people thinking that they have to help us with our ideas and sometimes all you have to do is put it out there and take that risk.
How was it for you to be involved in the short film as Executive Producer?
Peter: It was great because from minute one, I believed in Matthew. I knew he was a really talented, energetic, inspiring guy in his work and in his life. I got to see the story he wanted to tell and it felt like it was right for the time, its got its heart in the right place, it’s going to really speak to people, all of those things made it really easy for me. Really, I’ve just been the cheerleader.
What did you learn about fatherhood in the process?
Peter: I have three kids. I’ve experienced a lot of moments like this. I think from this film specifically, the thing that jumps out at me is a lot of it is about people supporting each other in family. You can see everybody in this family in some way shape or form has supported each other. It’s about the idea of a father listening to his daughter and her communicating something that’s really important to her and him understanding why it’s so important and doing what he can to help her express who she is and what she feels. I think that’s a huge part of what drives this movie and makes it feel special.
Catch Hair Love in theaters August 14.