Q&A with Filmmaker Matthew Cherry February 21, Student Union

UA Alumnus Matthew A. Cherry will be featured on campus and in a live public streaming interview and Q&A session


(The Buchtelite Stock Image)

One popular spot for students at UA is the Jean Hower Taber Student Union.

By LeKesha Parkman, Editor-in-Chief

Feb. 21, 2022 at 7p.m. will mark the return of one of The University of Akron’s most famous alumni. 

As part of Rethinking Race: Black, White, and Beyond, noted Writer, Director, Producer, and Editor Matthew A. Cherry will be interviewed on campus during a Q&A.

The event will be held in the Jean Hower Taber Student Union Gardner Theatre. Seating will be limited to 300 guests on a first-come, first-serve basis.  

Rethinking Race: Black, White and Beyond originated from former President Clinton’s visit to UA’s campus to discuss race and issues involving race. The University of Akron has since adopted it as an annual event that focused on issues relating to race. During these events, the goal is to create space for people to openly encourage discussions around those issues. 

Students are invited to attend and were asked to submit questions for Cherry. If time allows, he will answer all the students’ questions. 

Those who already registered to attend the event virtually may switch to in-person attendance pending seat availability. 

Everyone attending in person must adhere to the University’s indoor mask policy.  

Virtual participation is still an option,, but registration is required and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All registered virtual attendees will receive the event link the morning of Feb. 21. 

Dr. Sandie L. Crawford, Interim Director for the Office of Inclusion & Equity stated how the event intends to “showcase someone who has had national recognition for the work that he’s done.” 

“Hair Love” follows the story of an African-American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. (Image via Sony Pictures Animation)

Cherry is best known for the 2019 Academy Award-winning animated short film, “Hair Love”   which is available to view online for free here: https://youtu.be/kNw8V_Fkw28 

His Kickstarter campaign for “Hair Love” raised nearly $300,000 and broke the record for the highest amount raised for any short film in the platform’s history.  

“Hair Love” was later adapted into a picture book for Penguin Random House where it became a New York Times Bestseller, and it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Picture Book. 

Eight years before Cherry won an Oscar for “Hair Love” he tweeted,I’m gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claiming it.” 

Cherry has also written and directed two independent films, “The Last Fall” (2012), and “9 Rides” (2016). 

Cherry, a second-team Mid-American Conference wide receiver, played four seasons with the Akron Zips. He still holds UA’s record as the all-time leading receiver in the school’s history. 

When previously interviewed by The Buchtelite Cherry said that the inspiration for Hair Love” was a lack of representation for the relationship between African American fathers and daughters in mainstream animated media. 

Dr. Crawford noted that Cherry has attained success in spite of being relatively young. Her hope is that students will be encouraged by his journey and relate to his pursuit of his dreams and desires by using his talents and gifts.  

Dr. Crawford expressed her own interest in learning how his decisions lead to his evolution as a student and impacted his success. 

“I think students need to hear that, if you really are committed, and feel that you have a purpose, and that you’ve got this goal, and you’re on a mission to fulfill that, that no matter the circumstances, or situations, or how things may be working out, that if you keep on your grind, and move forward, ultimately, whatever is meant for you will be and as you can see from Matthew Cherry, this is major.”