'Hair Love' Wins Best Animated Short Film at 2020 Oscars: 'Representation Matters Deeply'

The touching animated short features a black father who learns how to do his young daughter's hair while his wife is in the hospital

It’s all love for Hair Love at the 2020 Oscars.

The film took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at Sunday’s ceremony, beating out fellow nominees Dcera (Daughter), Kitbull, Memorable and Sister.

Director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver took the stage to accept the award for the picture, which tells the touching story of a black father who learns how to do his young daughter’s hair while his wife is in the hospital.

“Thank you so much to the Academy and everybody out there who supported this film — there were lots of you,” said Toliver. “We share this award with you.”

“There were so many filmmakers that worked so hard on this, and it was a labor of love,” she continued. “It was because we have a firm belief that representation matters deeply. Especially in cartoons, because 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.”

Hair Love
Karen Rupert Toliver (L) and Matthew A. Cherry accept the award for Best Animated Short Film for Hair Love at the 92nd Oscars on Feb. 9, 2020. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty

Added Cherry, a former NFL player, “I just want to say that Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation — we wanted to normalize black hair.”

Cherry also made note of the Crown Act, which seeks to ensure protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Codes.

“There’s a very important issue that’s out there, it’s the Crown Act, and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold‘s, who is our special guest tonight, stop to happen,” he said, referencing the high school student who made national news last month when he said his school had suspended him for wearing his hair in dreadlocks.

Arnold also said he would not be allowed to walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cut his dreadlocks, and was banned from the school’s prom.

In an exciting turn of events, the teen is Cherry’s guest at the ceremony and walked the red carpet with the director earlier in the night.

Eric McCandless/Getty Images

According to Refinery29, Arnold attended the show thanks to Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade and beauty brand Dove, who sponsored Arnold’s ticket and got him and his mom ready for the show.

“I’m so grateful. I never expected any of this,” Arnold told the outlet. “The message of that movie and my message go together so well. I think it’s really amazing how they reached out to me and we can fight this together.”

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards are airing live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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