Former NFL Player Wins Oscar for “Hair Love”

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(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

It all started with viewing viral videos of African American fathers lovingly styling their daughters hair that sparked former NFL wide receiver Matthew Cherry to create a film that won an Oscar at the 2020 Academy awards.

His film, titled “Hair Love” won in the animated short category on Sunday.

Cherry wrote and directed the film, helping produce it alongside Karen Rupert Toliver.

It’s a really heartwarming story that not only charmed those who saw it, but also resulted in a children’s book and plenty of conversations about the importance of hair and heritage in the black community.

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“Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation,” Cherry said during his acceptance speech. “We wanted to normalize black hair. There’s a very important issue that’s out there, the CROWN Act, and if we can’t help to get this passed in all 50 states it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s who’s our special guest tonight.”

Arnold is a 18-year-old senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas who made headlines when his Texas high school suspended him and told him he wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation on the grounds that the dreadlocks he’d been growing since the seventh grade were “too long.”

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“I never thought that people like D-Wade and Gabrielle Union would be like on my side,” Arnold said in an appearance on CBS This Morning last week. Now, as he walks the red carpet with his family by his side, Arnold is sending a loud and clear message that loving your own hair is welcome at the Oscars.

So how did Cherry do it? Many say thatit started with manifesting his own destiny.

“I’m gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day,” he tweeted in 2012. “Already claiming it.”

“Any 3D artists follow me? I got an Oscar worthy short film idea to go with this image. Get at me,” he tweeted in 2016.

With the win, Cherry became only the second former athlete to win an Oscar for best animated short. The other former athlete? The late Kobe Bryant.

Reprinted with permission of

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