Made by Maddie producers deny copying Oscar-winning short Hair Love
The producers of the upcoming Nick Jr. series Made by Maddie are addressing claims that the animated show bears striking resemblances to Hair Love, the Oscar-winning short film created and co-directed by Matthew A. Cherry.
Waheed Alli, the CEO of production company Silvergate Media, said in a statement to EW that Made by Maddie was conceived five years ago, preceding Hair Love's 2017 Kickstarter campaign.
"Made by Maddie is a preschool show about an 8-year-old girl who uses her fashion sense and design ingenuity to solve problems," Alli said. "Silvergate Media has been working on the series for the last five years and throughout the production has taken steps to ensure a diverse production team and an appropriate voice cast lending their expertise and talent. As creators ourselves, we have the utmost respect and admiration for Matthew A. Cherry and Hair Love, and our hope is that when people watch our show, they will see it is its own story with its own adventures."
When the trailer for Made by Maddie debuted on Monday, many social media users quickly noted similarities between the show and Hair Love, which is about a Black father who learns to take care of his daughter Zuri's tresses for the first time. According to a press release, the Nick Jr. series follows a young Black girl named Maddie, who follows her dreams with the help of "her aspirational and talented fashion designer mom, Dee (Patina Miller), and her super cool and upbeat musician dad, Rashad (James Monroe Iglehart)."
Observers noted that in both projects, the dads have dreadlocks, the young girls sport curly hair, and the moms have natural hair. And as one Twitter user noted, "They even done stole the cat," referring to both protagonists having a gray cat. Some also criticized that Made by Maddie, a story about a Black family, was created by Paula Rosenthal, a white woman.
Cherry has retweeted and liked other people's criticisms of Made by Maddie but has not directly commented beyond posting a pair of emojis: one of a monocle face and one of a thinking face. A representative for Cherry told EW that "we had no knowledge of this show" and he has no comment at this time.
Hair Love launched its Kickstarter campaign in July 2017, featuring concept art and character sketches. Addressing the campaign, a representative for Silvergate Media shared with EW confidential drawings and scripts for Made by Maddie — originally titled Fashion Ally — from 2017 and 2018 that resembled what Maddie and her family look like in the trailer. One early drawing of Maddie, then named Theresa, was from 2015.
Cherry's project, which also spawned a best-selling children's book, grabbed the attention of Sony Pictures Animation and made its theatrical debut in 2019. Earlier this year, it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. HBO Max recently announced it would be expanding the short into an animated series called Young Love, which Cherry created and will showrun with Carl Jones (The Boondocks).