In May, it was announced that Polarity — the St. Louis-based parent company of both Lion Forge Comics and Oni Press — was launching Lion Forge Animation, a new studio intended to widen the diversity of creative voices available in the animated space. This weekend, its first project reaches theaters with Hair Love, a short directed by Matthew A. Cherry playing alongside The Angry Birds Movie 2.
The animated Hair Love short started life as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2017 that massively outperformed its goals; instead of the $75,000 target hoped for, it ended up raising almost $300,000 as the story of an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time went viral.
The final short, created in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, features Issa Rae as the voice of the young girl’s mother, and is produced by concept creator Matthew A. Cherry, Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young and Lion Forge Animation’s David Steward II and Carl Reed. Both Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Frank Abney (animator, Toy Story 4) serve as executive producers alongside Jordan Peele, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Hawkins, Yara and Keri Shahidi.
In a statement, Lion Forge’s David Steward II talked about the reasons why Hair Love was the ideal project to launch the company’s animation division. “With Lion Forge Animation, our goal remains in line with what we accomplished in publishing; to showcase a variety of authentic voices and experiences through our work, whether created internally or through partnership with top talent. Matthew’s vision for this project checked all of these boxes, and is a heartfelt authentic story that rings true to so many in the African American community, especially those of us who are fathers with daughters of our own.”
Carl Reed, Lion Forge chief creative officer, added, “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.”
Hair Love makes its theatrical debut Aug. 14.