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  • Age
    38
  • Title
    Writer, director, and producer
  • Company
    Cherry Lane Productions

The vast majority of NFL players are forced to think about what they’ll do when they retire far earlier than Tom Brady or Drew Brees. The average career span is little over three years. Matthew A. Cherry—a receiver with stints on the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, and Baltimore Ravens—was in the league for just under that. After packing away his pads and cleats, Cherry moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment, taking gigs as a production assistant before becoming a music video director for artists such as Snoop Dogg and Michelle Williams, and directing for film and television. Cherry’s animated short film Hair Love, about a Black father attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time, was funded by Kickstarter and won the Academy Award in 2020 for Best Animated Short Film. Hair Love has since been adapted into a book and a series for HBO Max.