It’s a beautiful thing to see images of young Black characters lead television shows so kids can see themselves represented. Not, however, when White executives get their “inspiration” from Black creatives without paying them.
That’s at least how fans felt when Nickelodeon’s newest Nick Jr. show, Made By Maddie, had an eerie resemblance to Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning 2019 short film, Hair Love.
The still image of the show’s main character, Maddie, shows a young Black girl with a pink headband, as well as her dad, who wears dreadlocks, and her mom, who sports natural hair. Almost immediately after Nickelodeon shared the series’ trailer and first-look images last week, people on social media began calling Nickelodeon out for what they perceived to be plagiarism.
“Made by Maddie is a show we acquired several years ago from Silvergate Media, a renowned production company we have previously worked with on other series,” Nickelodeon said in a statement in response to the backlash. “Since announcing the show’s premiere date this week, we have been listening closely to the commentary, criticism and concern coming from both viewers and members of the creative community.
“In response, and out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show,” the statement continued. “We are grateful to Silvergate Media for all of their work. And we hold Matthew A. Cherry and the wonderful and inspiring Hair Love in the highest regard.”
In an additional statement, Silvergate Media’s CEO said the company had been “working on the series for the last five years and throughout the production has taken steps to ensure a diverse production team and an appropriate voice cast lending their expertise and talent. As creators ourselves, we have the utmost respect and admiration for Matthew A. Cherry and Hair Love, and our hope is that when people watch our show, they will see it is its own story with its own adventures.”
Hair Love, which debuted in 2017 as a viral Kickstarter campaign, is being developed into its own HBO Max animated series.
Cherry himself seemingly replied to the controversy on Twitter with a couple of emojis.