Bruce W. Smith has contributed to some of our most beloved childhood animated movies, including Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, The Princess and the Frog, Winnie the Pooh, Space Jam, Wreck-It-Ralph and Frozen. With a career stretching over two decade, Smith’s work can also be seen on TV shows like The Proud Family (which he created) and Tangled Ever After.
This year Smith has co-directed one of the most important animated shorts of the year and my personal favorite.
Playing before the start of Sony Pictures Animation’s The Angry Birds Movie 2, Hair Love tells the emotional story of Stephen, an African-American father and his daughter, Zuri who is hilariously trying to learn how to do young Zuri’s luscious natural hair, which is not going well. Harmed with a purpose, YouTube videos and the love of his daughter, he learns the ins-and-outs of conditioners, gels and creams as his eager and attentive daughter sit patiently.
Originally inspired by Matthew A. Cherry’s beautifully illustrated book, which was backed by one of the most successful Kickstarters, Hair Love is more than a story about bows and combs, it’s about the importance of bonding and family, no matter your hair situation.
The Koalition spoke to Smith about the importance of African-American stories in animation, the impact of Hair Love, different animation styles and Disney’s newly announced reboot of The Proud Family.
Check out our interview below.