Former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry said “Hair Love” was produced “because we wanted to see more representation in animation, we wanted to normalize black hair.”

Cherry took home the Oscar for best animated short film for “Hair Love,” a heart warming story about an African American father attempting to style his daughter’s hair for the first time.

Cherry shared the prize with director and co-writer Karen Rupert Toliver. “There were so many filmmakers involved who worked hard on this, and it was a labor of love,” said Toliver. “It was a firm belief that representation matters deeply — especially in cartoons. Because in cartoons that’s where we see our first movies and it’s how we shape our lives and think about how we see our world.”

Cherry dedicated his statuette to the late Kobe Bryant, saying “may all our second acts be as great as his.”

“I feel like everyone has to step up and get it done. Black fathers have had one of the worst raps in mainstream media as being portrayed as being deadbeats and not being involved.”

“It was important to us to showcase a black father that was young, that had tattoos. I think if you saw someone like him on the street, you would assume that wasn’t a loving father that does his daughter’s hair,” Cherry said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re just trying to change the conversation, one project at a time.”

Cherry took to social media after the show to share what would have been his full acceptance speech:

“Hair Love” was adapted into a best-selling children’s book written by Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

Photo courtesy of AP