“I’m gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claimin it.”
That’s the tweet Matthew Cherry posted June 2, 2012, manifesting his dreams of becoming an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. The call-out to the universe was answered — and upgraded — on Feb. 9, 2020, as the pro football player-turned-filmmaker made it all the way to the Oscar stage to accept the best animated short film statuette for Hair Love.
Cherry’s tweet has led to another milestone: He’s now on a billboard.
Executives at Twitter were so inspired by his trajectory that they used it as inspiration for the platform’s most ambitious celebrity and athlete campaign yet by taking a series of manifestation tweets and splashing them across billboards in eight cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Chicago. “His was the very first tweet we anchored on,” posted Leslie Berland, Twitter’s chief marketing officer, along with the hashtag #TweetItIntoExistence. “The vision, the confidence, the clarity!”
Bold-faced names who similarly manifested tweets into reality and are now featured on billboards include Megan Thee Stallion, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Niall Horan, Demi Lovato, race car driver Bubba Wallace, Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette, WNBA star Diamond DeShields, and blind gamer Steve Saylor. As a way to encourage users to manifest their dreams while helping some come true in the process, Twitter is donating nearly $1 million to charities chosen by the celeb participants. On the receiving end thus far are Boys and Girls Club, Destination Crenshaw, the 3-D Foundation and UNICEF Canada.
Courtesy of Twitter
When he posted the original tweet, Cherry had recently finished his debut feature, The Last Fall, about an NFL journeyman struggling to deal with life after retirement. It stars Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie and Vanessa Bell Calloway. “I was at a place in my life when I was excited that I had a movie but also somewhat frustrated that it didn’t hit in the same way that it had for other filmmakers at that time,” he explains. “At the time, it felt as if maybe one or two Black filmmakers got the call to the big leagues, per se. If you weren’t one of those, then it meant that you were back to square one and you had to come up with another idea or do another indie film. It left me feeling like I needed to encourage myself.”
Twitter, his favorite social media platform (where he currently has over 314,000 followers), also felt like the perfect place to do that because he used it almost like a journal to express thoughts, feelings and ideas. “I wanted to remind myself that if you continue to do the work and do what you have to do, eventually it will be recognized on a bigger stage.” After the Oscar win, Cherry has been making moves on many stages, directing episodes of Black-ish, Mixed-ish, The Wonder Years, Saved by the Bell, The Kings of Napa and Kenan. He’s set to direct feature The Come Up starring Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler and Keith Lucas, and he’s shepherding an animated series based on Hair Love titled Young Love for HBO Max. He also has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Television Group.
When he got the call that Twitter wanted to anchor a campaign on his tweet, Cherry said he was shocked. “Normally as filmmakers, man, we’re behind the scenes, but to see a whole advertising campaign on my favorite social network site, it’s just crazy,” explains Cherry, who adds that it’s also special to share the shine with friends like Insecure star Rae. “I was also excited to see all the other voices that were going to be championed as well. I remember the first time I saw one of the billboards — the ad of Demi Lovato literally hitting the high note at the Super Bowl — it was really inspiring. I hope it inspires others the way it inspired me.”
What is Cherry manifesting next? “Creating my own stuff,” he says. “Hopefully getting a couple feature films going and trying to create some original live-action and animated TV shows.”