Sony Pictures Animation has officially released the short film Hair Love on Instagram and YouTube on Thursday. Written by former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry, the six-minute animated film tells the story about a father learning to do his daughter’s Afro textured hair for the first time in the absence of her mother. It’s an inspirational little flick that will literally bring you to tears.
We’ve discussed the in the past how the ritual of doing a child’s hair is also an expression of love in the Black community. And we know it typically to be one passed down from mother to daughter. But more and more fathers are learning to style their little girls’ curls—they take pride in executing intricate and creative styles. This film wonderfully captures how that expression of love and the bond that can be created surpasses the fear of stepping into the unknown world of curls, clips, hair pins, and detangling combs.
“I have a lot of friends who are young fathers,” Cherry, who is not a father himself, said in an interview. “Black fathers get one of the worst raps in terms of stereotypes—we’re deadbeats, we’re not around. The people I know are extremely involved in their kids’ lives.”
Originally released as an opener for Angry Birds 2 this past summer, the short was funded through a Kickstarter campaign which attracted filmmakers Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce Smith. The film also has a children’s picture book companion that was illustrated by New York Times bestselling author Vashti Harrison, published through Penguin Kids in May.
Cherry told The New York Times this summer that while he hopes to continue the story of Zuri and her father Steven, he’s currently just enjoying the response to it. And the response has been nothing but love, appreciation, and positivity. Celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois posted the short to his Instagram page. And fans sounded off on Sony’s page asking for a longer version of the film, saying that it’s “an image we need for our daughters.”
Jordan Peele also responded, saying, “Matthew leads the ranks of new creatives who are telling unique stories of the Black experience. We need this.”
“I think Hair Love is an important book for right now because of representation,” said Cherry in a YouTube interview with Penguin Kids. “I think anytime a young child can see themselves represented in any form of art, be that in literature, movies, film, television, I think that it does a great job of normalizing that look.”
Perhaps we can look forward to a Hair Love book series in 2020? We’ll be waiting and watching to see when we can get another dose of Zuri, Steven, and their inspirational experiences.