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Former NFL wide receiver Matthew Cherry relied on an assist from Kickstarter to create “Hair Love,” the animated short film that won an Oscar at the 2020 Academy Awards on Sunday.
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Cherry, 38, launched the crowdfunding campaign in 2017 with an initial goal of $75,000 to cover production costs. The campaign for “Hair Love” far exceeded Cherry’s goal, raising more than $284,000 from nearly 5,000 backers on Kickstarter, according to the short film’s campaign page.
“Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation and we wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said during his Oscars acceptance speech.
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A former standout college football player at Akron University in Ohio, Cherry went undrafted in the 2004 NFL draft. He had stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens cut Cherry during the 2006 preseason. He used a $30,000 injury settlement with the team to move to Los Angeles and pursue his dreams in Hollywood, according to ESPN’s The Undefeated.
“Hair Love” is a six-minute animated short film about a father who has to style his daughter’s hair when his wife is unavailable. The fundraising campaign broke Kickstarter’s record for any other short film on its platform.
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Cherry became just the second former professional athlete in history to win an Academy Award. Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last month, accomplished the feat in 2018 in the same category for his animated short film, “Dear Basketball.”
Cherry dedicated his award win to Bryant during his acceptance speech.
“This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant," he said. "May we all have a second act in life as great as his was.”
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