“Nailed it,” Cherry tweeted, sharing a post from May 2016 in which he called out for artists about an “Oscar worthy” idea.
Another tweet from 2012, in which Cherry predicted an eventual Oscar nomination, made the rounds online after the win.
In his acceptance speech, Cherry described a dream to create an ode to black hair and increase representation in animated films.
“ ’Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair,” he said.
Producer Karen Rupert Toliver said the filmmakers believe “representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons.”
“In cartoons, that’s when we first see our movies and it’s how we shape our lives and think about how we see the world,” she said after accepting the award for best animated short film.
In his remarks, Cherry called for federal passage of the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, a California law that prohibits discrimination based on hair style or texture. New York and New Jersey have also passed the CROWN Act, and other states are considering similar legislation, according to the CROWN Coalition, a network of civil rights and advocacy groups. Cherry said he hoped the legislation could prevent stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, the black Texas teen who was told his long dreadlocks violated the high school district’s dress code.
“We have a real chance here to help make hair discrimination illegal through the Crown Act and get it passed as law in all 50 states,” Cherry wrote in a note posted on Twitter.
Arnold was the “Hair Love” team’s special guest at the Oscars. In a video surprising the teen with an invitation to the Oscars, Cherry said: “We’ve all been so inspired by your story, and this is the very least we can do to thank you for standing up for yourself and for your right to wear your natural hair at school.”
Cherry told The Washington Post’s Bethonie Butler he wanted the film to encourage young people to embrace their natural hair. He had watched numerous videos online of black fathers lovingly doing their daughter’s hair and wanted to bring that to life.
The project began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and received an overwhelming response.
In the short, a 7-year-old named Zuri wakes up and wants to style her head of thick curls for a special day. The story follows as her father, Stephen, who is not up for the task at first, learns to moisturize, de-tangle, twist and style his daughter’s hair after watching a video made by Zuri’s mother, a natural-hair vlogger.
After receiving the Oscar nomination for his vision, Cherry told The Post: “If you focus on how you’re affecting the culture and you’re affecting change, the awards and things like that will come in. Even if they don’t come, you’re still doing great work.”