Matthew A. Cherry

Matthew A. Cherry (born December 13, 1981)[1] is an American film director, writer, producer, and former American football player. He wrote and directed two independent films, The Last Fall (2012), and 9 Rides (2016), and is currently an executive at Monkeypaw Productions. He is best known for the 2019 Academy Award winning animated short film, Hair Love, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Animation in March 2019 for distribution. The Kickstarter campaign for Hair Love raised over $200,000 and broke the record for the highest amount raised for any short film on the platform.[2]

Matthew A. Cherry
Born (1981-12-13) December 13, 1981 (age 38)
Years active
  • 2007–present (film career)
Notable work
Hair Love

Football career
No. 13, 14
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:203 lb (92 kg)
Career information
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at

Early life and educationEdit

Cherry was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL. [3] He attended the University of Akron, where he played on the football team and earned a bachelor's degree in media.[4]

Cherry played college football for four seasons with the Akron Zips under head coach Lee Owens and was a second-team All-Mid-American Conference wide receiver.[5] He finished his career as the all-time leading receiver in school history[6] and ended his senior season with records for total receptions,[7] yards, touchdowns, punt return yards and punt return touchdowns.[citation needed]

Professional football careerEdit

Cherry signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent following the 2004 NFL Draft.[8] He was waived during final roster cuts on August 29, 2004,[9] and re-signed to the team's practice squad on September 6.[10] The Cincinnati Bengals signed him off of the Jaguars' practice squad to their active roster on December 29, 2004, before the final game of the season.[8]

Cherry was waived by the Bengals during final roster cuts on August 29, 2005.[11] He worked out for the Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League on September 9, 2005,[12] but left the team by September 21 without having played in a game, as he felt the team was too disorganized. The Renegades franchise folded shortly after due to financial instability.[13]

Cherry signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2006, and was allocated to the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe. He was waived by Hamburg during final roster cuts on March 5, 2006.[14] He returned to the Panthers, but was waived on May 30, 2006. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens on August 3, 2006.[15] He was placed on injured reserve on August 30, 2006, and missed the entire season.[16]

Film careerEdit

Cherry retired from football in 2007 to pursue a film career.[1] After initially working as a production assistant he began directing music videos. He directed the video for gospel song "Say Yes" by singer Michelle Williams.[1]

Cherry wrote and directed his first film, The Last Fall, in 2012. The film stars Lance Gross and Nicole Beharie. The film, which premiered at SXSW, received average critical reviews.[17] Peter Deburge of Variety described The Last Fall as a "tepid daytime-TV melodrama."[18] Gary Goldstein wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "this is an involving, sympathetic film unafraid to wear its sizable heart on its sleeve."[19] It won Best Screenplay at the American Black Film Festival.

His second film, 9 Rides, was shot entirely on an iPhone 6s, which may be the first feature film shot using the device.[20] Starring Dorian Missick, it premiered at SXSW in 2016.[21] Tom Harrington of The Daily Dot called it "a taut, attractive piece of work."[20] Shannon M. Houston reviewed the film for Paste and wrote, "9 Rides is proof that Cherry is a storyteller who can do quite a bit with a modest budget (this is the first film shot on an iPhone 6s) and a simple premise."[22]

Hair LoveEdit

In 2017, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign for a short animated film called Hair Love. The film is about an African American dad who is attempting to style his young daughter Zuri's hair for the first time.[2] The campaign surpassed its initial goal of $75,000 and raised over $300,000. According to Kickstarter, that exceeds the amount raised by any other short film project on the platform.[2] He co-directed the film with Everett Downing and Bruce W. Smith, with Peter Ramsey and Pixar animator Frank Abney serving as executive producers.[23] On March 20, 2019, Sony Pictures Animation announced that they had picked up Hair Love, which was slated to be released to audiences later in the year.[2] The six-minute film[24] was also adapted into a children's book by Kokila Books, written by Cherry and illustrated by artist Vashti Harrison, which was released on May 14, 2019.[25] The book was on the New York Times Book Review Children's Best Sellers list.[26] The film was shown in theaters alongside The Angry Birds Movie 2 on August 14, 2019,[27] and was later uploaded to YouTube four months later on December 5.[28] The film won him the 2020 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.[29]


  1. ^ a b c Busch, Anita; Busch, Anita (2016-04-01). "NFL Player-Turned-Director Matthew Cherry Signs With ICM Partners". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  2. ^ a b c d Patten, Dominic; Patten, Dominic (2019-03-20). "Sony Animation Picks Up 'Hair Love' Short From 'BlacKkKlansman' EP Matthew A. Cherry". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  3. ^ Matthew Cherry moved from the practice squad in the NFL to first string in Hollywood - The Undefeated
  4. ^ "Who Is Matthew A. Cherry?". The Urban Daily. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Zips' former gridiron star scores big in new career". November 7, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "Former Zips Wideout Signed By Cincinnati Bengals". CBS Sports Network. December 29, 2004. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
  7. ^ "Akron Looks to Make it Five-Straight Saturday at Ohio". CBS Sports Network. November 9, 2004. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
  8. ^ a b "Bengals put rookie Chris Perry on injury list". The Tribune. December 30, 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2020 – via
  9. ^ "Transactions". August 29, 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Football". The Times. September 7, 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2020 – via
  11. ^ "Transactions". August 29, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  12. ^ Sekeres, Matthew (September 10, 2005). "Renegades cannon-fodder". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved February 9, 2020 – via
  13. ^ Holder, Gord (September 24, 2017). "Renegade filmmaker: Short-lived CFLer Matthew A. Cherry gets animated". Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  14. ^ "Teams make roster cuts as training camp closes". March 5, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Hensley, Jamison and Edward Lee (August 3, 2006). "Hamstring still slows Clayton". Archived from the original on August 6, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  16. ^ "Transactions". August 30, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  17. ^ Busch, Anita; Busch, Anita (2016-04-01). "NFL Player-Turned-Director Matthew Cherry Signs With ICM Partners". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  18. ^ Debruge, Peter; Debruge, Peter (2012-04-03). "The Last Fall". Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  19. ^ "Movie review: 'The Last Fall' paints grim picture of post-NFL life". Los Angeles Times. 2012-10-25. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  20. ^ a b "Get in the back seat with '9 Rides,' a feature film shot entirely on iPhone 6s". The Daily Dot. 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  21. ^ Mumin, Nijla; Mumin, Nijla (2016-03-18). "SXSW Review: '9 Rides' Take Us On An Engrossing Drive". IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  22. ^ "9 Rides". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  23. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (August 11, 2019). "Lion Forge Animation Debuts with 'Hair Love' Partnership". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "Watch the Oscar-nominated short about a dad learning to style his daughter's hair". Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  25. ^ HAIR LOVE by Matthew A. Cherry , Vashti Harrison | Kirkus Reviews.
  26. ^ "Children's Picture Books - Best Sellers - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  27. ^ "Viral animated short Hair Love to make theatrical debut with Angry Birds Movie 2". August 5, 2019.
  28. ^ Seigh, Steve (December 5, 2019). "Sony's new Hair Love animated short is a heart-breaking ode to parenting". Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  29. ^ Kelley, Alexandra (2020-01-13). "Breakthrough 'Hair Love' nominated for Oscar". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-01-14.