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Oscar winner ignites conversation about black representation in film

Posted: 10:51 PM, Feb 10, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-10 23:56:48-05
HAIR LOVE.JPG

GREEN BAY, Wis — GREEN BAY, Wis (NBC 26) -- The Academy Awards on Sunday night likely helped many create a must watch list of future films. But one animated short that took home an Oscar, about an African American father trying to do his daughters hair for the first time, has many talking about how black representation in films truly matters.

At Bibi's African Hair Place in Green Bay, giving women a bit more confidence is woven into the very framework of Bibi Lutter’s business.

"It looks pretty on everybody. So everybody is welcome," says Lutter.

African braids are Bibi's specialty. It's an art that she says little girls like her daughter, can't wait to get their hands on.

"The day she turned five, that was the day she perfected a braid and she was so excited. She said Mom, I told you. I told you when I was five years old I could braid."

The thing is, there are not a lot of places in Green Bay or within the media circuit in general where black women's hair is celebrated. That's why when we showed Bibi and a client of hers the Oscar winning film about a father tackling his daughter's hair for the first time, it stirred up emotions.

"As a black woman and having a black daughter I think the representation shows her it's okay to be you. The hair that grows from your scalp is yours, it's beautiful," says Ashanti Wright.

The directors of the animated short called Hair Love say representation in film matters deeply. Adding that animated films can help kids shape their lives and figure out how they view the world, which is a message that these women, completely agree with.

"As a black girl seeing people that look like you, gives you the confidence to just be you. It just opens that door of, I don't have to change who I am, I don't have to look like this, I can look like me and me is good," adds Wright.

And while the animated film clocks in at just less than seven minutes, that's just enough time to start a conversation and talk about how diverse kinds of beauty and race should be represented in films.

"It's good to embrace that feel and put you in someone’s shoes and really say wow, this is different," says Lutter.

We've included a link to the Hair Love animated short here. Grab your tissues though, it's sweet and heartfelt and hits all the buttons that many have come to expect out of Oscar award winning films.