What is so touching about a black father doing his daughter’s hair? Apparently, everything. Just ask Writer/Director Matthew A. Cherry who raised over 100k in less than a week for his latest project, Hair Love. Cherry talked to Black TV Film Crew about Hair Love which is still in fundraising mode at Kickstarter with a goal of 200k. Cherry shares his inspiration, black men in the media, goals for the project, and why both black mothers and fathers should support Hair Love.
Hair Love, is a 5 minute animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, Stephen, his daughter, Zuri and her hair. Despite having long locks, Stephen has been used to his wife doing his daughter’s hair, so when she is unavailable right before a big event, Stephen will have to figure it out on his own. This sounds simple enough, but we soon come to find that Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own.
With this project, we are championing black fathers but we’re also trying to normalize black fathers and in the process normalize black families.
I had this idea for a couple of years and I was scared for whatever reason. But this year, I decided to be more engaged. Whenever I came across a kid video, or a father video, it would do so many likes and retweets on Twitter. It would go viral. The feedback was always these heartwarming stories,’This reminds me of my kid or of my dad.’ I realized there’s an appetite for this.
Also, I wanted to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color. When black fathers are celebrated and shown in everyday situations, it is very powerful.
Hair Love goes against how black men are portrayed in the media, can you speak to that point?
Black men are portrayed in the media negatively. Either we’re not there, we’re deadbeat, we’re in an abusive situation, or in jail. There are so many different issues which are real within the community, but the media often portrays those issues as the only version of black men you see. With this project, we are championing black fathers but we’re also trying to normalize black fathers and in the process normalize black families. It is a universal story about a father who is doing all that he can for his daughter.
Mothers are well represented in the piece. The backbone and core of the black family is the black woman. Black women can relate to this project because they’ve seen their fathers doing something domestic, getting them ready for school or they’ve had a father figure, older brother, uncle, or grandparent in that role. Black women can see themselves in the Zuri character.
What are some main goals of the film?
Something as simple as a black man doing his daughter’s hair has gone viral. It’s almost heroic. They look at it as an anomaly. That’s why it’s important. Maybe someone would have done this story eventually, but maybe not. This guy has a face full of joy and I think that image has connected with folks. This project can help to humanize black men in mainstream media.
For example, when someone is killed by the police, you don’t go and automatically look to see their jail record. Instead, you may think, ‘this guy has a kid’ or ‘this man had to do his daughter’s hair.’ That normalizes us. Also, I want to make this film as dope as possible. I want to make sure no one is disappointed when they see it.
Though Cherry isn’t a father yet, he thought a lot about how he would want to portrayed when he becomes a father. Imagine what this world would be like if every would- be-father thought about how he wanted to be portrayed before becoming a father… The world would be different.
We have proudly donated to the Hair Love Kickstarter campaign and encourage you to support as well. This is a project with heart.
Listen to Matthew talk about Hair Love
- Former NFL player for Bengals, Jaguars, and Panthers
- Directed The Last Fall featuring Lance Gross & Nicole Behari
- Directed Michelle Williams ‘Say Yes’ video featuring Beyonce & Kelly Rowland
- Shot his feature film 9 Rides entirely on an iPhone and premiered it at SXSW