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HBO Max Greenlights Oscar-Winner Matthew A. Cherry’s ‘Young Love’

New 2D animated series, based on characters from director’s Academy Award-winning short, ‘Hair Love,’ to be produced in conjunction with Sony Pictures Animation.

HBO Max has ordered a 12-episode season of Young Love, an all-new, 2D animated series based on characters introduced in the Academy Award-winning short film, Hair Love from Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry and Sony Pictures Animation. The new series is created by Cherry, who will showrun with long-time animation creative Carl Jones (The Boondocks, Black Dynamite). The series will be executive produced by Blue Key Entertainment's Monica A. Young (producer of Hair Love) along with Lion Forge Animation’s David Steward II and Carl Reed.

Hair Love is a funny, poignant and socially relevant animated short film that tells the story of an African American father’s valiant attempt to style his daughter’s beautiful but wild head of hair. The short resonated with people everywhere, especially fathers who found themselves in similar situations.

Young Love expands on the family introduced in Hair Love; it’s an honest look into the world of the Young family – including millennial parents Stephen and Angela, their daughter Zuri and her pet cat Rocky – as they juggle their careers, marriage, parenthood, social issues, and multi-generational dynamics all while striving to make a better life for themselves.

For Cherry, Hair Love was his first animated project, though he’d been working in Hollywood for over 12 years in a wide range of roles on an even wider range of projects.  Cherry was an executive at Jordan Peele’s production company, Monkeypaw, with directing credits on live-action TV shows like The Last OGWhiskey Cavalier and The Red Line, as well as an executive producing credit on Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, under his belt. But Hair Love took the director into the medium of animation for the very first time, fueled by a $300,000 Kickstarter campaign back in 2017, the most money ever raised on the crowd-funding platform for a short film, Cherry enlisted a number of talented animation industry friends to help make the film in their spare time.

Read AWN’s exclusive Matthew A. Cherry Interview:

A Father and Daughter Bond Over Hairstyling in ‘Hair Love’

In a January 2020 interview with AWN, Cherry noted, “Being my first foray into animation, I wanted to do something that hopefully would do the medium justice. We're really proud of the final film. We put a lot of time into developing the story and making sure that, hopefully, it connects with people. And we always joked that we got probably 90% of all the black people that work in animation to work on this. Between Peter [Ramsey], Bruce [Smith], Everett [Downing Jr.], Frank Abney and Karen Toliver, we definitely had a great mix of folks.”

“I am beyond excited to continue telling the story of Stephen, Angela and Zuri and further explore the family dynamics of a young Black millennial family we established in our short film Hair Love as an animated series,” said Cherry. “Couldn’t ask for better partners in Sony Pictures Animation and HBO Max in helping us get Young Love out to the world.”

According to Billy Wee, SVP, Original Animation, HBO Max, “Hair Love struck a chord that is still resonating deeply with audiences of all ages. Matthew and Sony Animation’s creative voices are a welcomed addition to the HBO Max family and we can’t wait to bring this joyous story to the world.”

Karen Rupert Toliver, executive vice president of creative for Sony Pictures Animation and Oscar-winning producer of Hair Love, added, “It's a privilege to continue our partnership with Matthew Cherry, who has a gift for tapping into meaningful stories that touch our hearts. I personally can't wait to collectively laugh and cry with the Young family.”

Source: HBO Max

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.