CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a unique love story that illustrates what can be an awkward struggle to style. And it just garnered an Oscar nomination for its Chicago director.

“Hair Love” from Chicago-born director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Toliver  was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

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(Credit: Shaniqwa Jarvis)

(Credit: Shaniqwa Jarvis)

The seven minute animated feature centers around the relationship of a young African American father trying to style his daughter’s hair for the first time and how much he wants to help her. It also features the voice of Issa Rae.

(Credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

If Cherry’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was a wide receiver in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers before retiring in 2007.

It’s not his first foray into movie making. Cherry has been working steadily in Hollywood for almost two decades, first as a production assistant, then moving on to working as a director of music videos, short films, and long form features including “The Last Fall” and “9 Rides” and was an executive producer on Spike Lee’s “BlacKKKlansman.”

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(Credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

Cherry’s television work includes working as a director on the TBS series “The Last OG” and “Black-ish.”

In a statement, Cherry and Toliver expressed their excitement for the nomination and the recognition of a subject not often seen in mainstream television and films.

“We are so very grateful to The Academy for this recognition.  We set out on this journey to tell the story of a young black father whose love for his daughter takes him into uncharted territory – doing her hair for the first time.  The story was incredibly personal to us because it allowed us to tackle the negative societal stereotypes around natural hair and black fathers, and to normalize the depiction of a loving black family that we know so well and yet have seen so little of in media.  We are grateful for the overwhelming reception.  It’s a testament to how much representation matters and how it can empower all of us to see ourselves in a more positive light.   We humbly thank Sony Pictures Animation and everyone who played a part in getting HAIR LOVE out to the world.”

(Credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

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Cherry’s book “Hair Love” is also based on the story.