Hair Love & The CROWN Act
The 2020 Oscar winner for Best Animated Short Film hit close to home!
While we celebrate hair love each and every day, it was particularly delightful to watch the film Hair Love win the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film last Sunday, especially amongst the controversy over the Academy's lack of representation and diversity.
Hair Love, is a 7 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. This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color.
The film was brought to life when NFL wide receiver-turned-movie director Matthew A. Cherry put the idea up on Kickstarter and went on to surpass his goal of $75,000 by over $200,000, resulting in getting Issa Rae (one of our biggest girl crushes) to do the voice over as well as getting the film into theaters (it preceded Angry Birds 2), and of course eventually leading to the big Oscar win, thereby fulfilling his hope of creating a dialogue around hair love on a broader scale.
Cherry scored bonus hair love points by using the award show as an opportunity to advocate for The CROWN Act (the acronym stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) by inviting Texas high school student DeAndre Arnold to be his special guest for the evening. Authored by California State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, the legislation makes it illegal to discriminate based on hairstyle and hair texture in the workplace or at school. Sounds like a no brainer, right?! Sadly - no. Hair discrimination is still technically legal in 47 states. You can learn more and get involved via thecrownact.com.
Films like this shed light on the fact that there are as many varied hair related experiences, memories, and relationship dynamics as there are hair types. A beautiful message indeed and certainly a timely one. You can catch it in its entirety below, but be warned that you may want to have the tissues handy!