History is peppered with examples of the entertainment industry ripping off Black culture by taking ideas and passing them off as their own while making lots of money in the process.
Whether it’s hip-hop music, the blues, or the similarities between Fox’s “Living Single” and NBC’s “Friends,” it’s a recurring issue, and the people behind a new Nick Jr. series are out to prove they aren’t the latest to rip off a Black creative.
The streets — mainly social media — are in the midst of discussing the eerie similarities between “Made by Maddie,” an animated series scheduled to launch Sept. 13, and “Hair Love,” the Academy Award-winning short film by filmmaker and Northwest Side native Matthew A. Cherry. A series based on “Hair Love” is in the works.
Tweeters noted the identical family structure of the series and the short film — a mother, a father and a young daughter — the similar hairstyles of the parents, and the presence of a family cat.
While Cherry hasn’t spoken publicly about his film’s similarities to “Made by Maddie,” he’s retweeted others who believe the resemblance, and in one tweet included monocle and pensive-face emojis suggesting skepticism.
Another Cherry tweet displayed a GIF of actress Gabrielle Union’s character from the competitive cheerleading film “Bring It On,” in which a high school cheerleading team made up of white girls steals the routine of the East Compton Clovers — a squad comprised of Black girls and Latinas.
The Nick Jr. series, created by Paula Rosenthal, a white woman, centers around a Black girl named Maddie, a “quick-thinking little girl with a big personality and a huge heart, who has a passion for fashion,” according to Silvergate Media, which produces the series.
While the show is scheduled to feature Black voices such as James Monroe Iglehart (“Hamilton”) and Patina Miller (“Hunger Games”), the creative team is “diverse,” according to a Silvergate Media press release.
In July, HBO Max ordered a 12-episode season of “Young Love,” an animated series that looks into the lives of the Young family introduced in Cherry’s short film.
Silvergate Media insists the two projects are unrelated, with CEO Waheed Ali saying in a statement that the company “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 as its own story with its own adventures.”
As evidence, Silvergate provided the Sun-Times with drawings of the characters from 2015 and a “Maddie” script from 2017. Cherry launched his Kickstarter campaign for “Hair Love” in 2017.
Cherry’s representatives told Entertainment Weekly, “We had no knowledge of this show.”