This weekend, if you head to theaters to see Angry Birds 2, you’ll get the chance to see a history-making animated short beforehand.
Back in 2017, filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry launched a Kickstarter campaign for a passion project. His animated short, Hair Love, was inspired by all the viral videos Cherry had seen of African-American and black dads trying to do their daughters’ hair for the first time. The frustration and love and good-natured humor inspired Cherry to make the short in order to “promote hair love amongst young men and women of color,” especially since he saw such a lack of representation in animation. Hair Love tells the story of an African-American dad, Stephen, who is left having to do his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time – and her hair has a mind of its own. It’s a sweet slice of life that resonated with so many when the Kickstarter campaign launched.
The campaign, which had a goal of $75k, went viral and raised a whopping $284,058, a full $209k more than he had originally asked for. It was so successful that it was picked up by Lion Forge Animation, a new studio devoted to inclusion and representation in animated film, and will be the studio’s first-ever project to hit theaters. Created in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, the final version of the short features a stacked team behind it: Cherry himself with Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young and David Steward II and Carl Reed of Lion Forge Studios serving as the creative team and producers, with executive producers including Jordan Peele, Yara and Kara Shahidi, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Hawkins, Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Frank Abney (Toy Story 4).
Reed said the short was right in line with what Lion Forge intends to produce with its films:
“As a father of an eight-year-old daughter with 3B hair, I can personally relate so directly to this project, and was therefore drawn to its themes immediately. This film presents such a unique perspective on such a common part of our daily experience, providing a rare onscreen moment for African American parents to connect with. Matthew A. Cherry has given us an uplifting, positive view of black families; and thanks to Sony Pictures Animation running this theatrically, one that we will have an opportunity to share with the world.”
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is in theaters this week.