'Hair Love,' Sponsored by Dove, Earns an Oscar Nomination for Best Animated Short

See the Matthew A. Cherry film here

Amid all the feverish reaction to the Oscar nominations announced Monday, Dove will be thrilled to see a project it sponsored making the list of nominees. 

"Hair Love," created by Matthew A. Cherry, was one of five films nominated in the category of best animated short film. The seven-minute film tells the sweet story of an African American father who helps his daughter get her unruly hair styled for an event—while his wife is away. 

"Hair Love," which had a run in theaters during screenings of The Angry Birds Movie 2 last year (making it eligible for an Academy Award), was a Kickstarter project. Dove learned about it and quietly supported it financially. The Unilever brand's logo appears in the credits at the end, along with the line, "Special thanks to Dove Hair." 

The film had an initial fundraising goal of $75,000 but amassed nearly $300,000, making it the most highly funded short film campaign in Kickstarter history. Sony Pictures Animation eventually picked it up. Issa Rae voices the mother in the film, and producers on the project included Jordan Peele, Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade and Gabourey Sidibe. 

Check out the film here: 

"We are so very grateful to The Academy for this recognition," Cherry says in a statement to Variety. "We set out on this journey to tell the story of a young black father whose love for his daughter takes him into uncharted territory—doing her hair for the first time. The story was incredibly personal to us because it allowed us to tackle the negative societal stereotypes around natural hair and black fathers, and to normalize the depiction of a loving black family that we know so well and yet have seen so little of in media. We are grateful for the overwhelming reception. It's a testament to how much representation matters and how it can empower all of us to see ourselves in a more positive light. We humbly thank Sony Pictures Animation and everyone who played a part in getting 'Hair Love' out to the world." 

Dove, meanwhile, congratulated Cherry in a tweet on Monday, adding: "We're so proud to be on your team!" 

AdAge does a deeper dive here, revealing that Dove was very hands off with the project—donating money for production, but not asking for any product placement. 

African-American fathers doing their daughters' hair has been a theme in advertising before. Pantene did a whole series of spots in 2016 with NFL players giving their daughters hairdos in charming spots by Grey. Cherry, himself a former NFL player before leaving in 2007 for a film career, says he was inspired by this viral video.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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