DeAndre Arnold Gets Invite To Oscars From Team Behind 'Hair Love'

Matthew A. Cherry, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade surprised the Black teen who refused to cut his locs to walk at graduation.
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His Texas school district didn鈥檛 listen when high school senior DeAndre Arnold spoke up about the importance of growing his locs. But celebrities like Matthew A. Cherry, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade have assured Arnold that he鈥檚 not alone.

Cherry, Union and Wade surprised Arnold with an invitation to attend the upcoming Academy Awards as their guest. They鈥檙e all part of the team behind 鈥淗air Love,鈥 an Oscar-nominated animated short film that tells the story of a Black father who wears his own hair in locs and learns to do his daughter鈥檚 hair.

Arnold made headlines last week when his family revealed that he would be barred from walking at his upcoming graduation unless he cut his locs. Under his school鈥檚 guidelines on hair length, the teen鈥檚 locs 鈥 a hairstyle rooted in Black pride, culture and sometimes religion 鈥 are considered too long.

鈥淪ince Deandre Arnold鈥檚 school didnt want to let him walk at his graduation because of his hair we figured that he should walk with us on the red carpet at the #Oscars as our special guest,鈥 Cherry, the writer and director of 鈥淗air Love,鈥 tweeted on Friday.

Cherry noted in a later tweet that Union and Wade, producers of 鈥淗air Love,鈥 are flying the teen and his mother, Sandy Arnold, out to Los Angeles for the Oscars on Feb. 9. The celebrity couple will also cover the family鈥檚 lodging and car service costs.

Personal care brand Dove, a sponsor of 鈥淗air Love,鈥 will give Arnold and his mother the 鈥渞ed carpet treatment鈥 by covering their ticket costs and wardrobe for the ceremony, Cherry said.

鈥淲hen we heard about your story, and you just wanting to wear your hair the way you want at school ... and all the scrutiny that you faced and how unwavering you have been, we also knew that we had to get involved,鈥 Union said in a video message to Arnold.

Wade added in the video that he and Union are 鈥渂ig fans鈥 of the teen.

鈥淚t鈥檚 crazy 鈥 I never thought that people like D Wade and Gabrielle Union would be ... on my side,鈥 Arnold told 鈥CBS This Morning鈥 on Friday in response to the video. 鈥淭he film is about hair love, and me and my hair kind of grew up together. In a way, it鈥檚 like we鈥檙e best friends.鈥

He added that the invitation to the Oscars 鈥渕eans so much.鈥

Arnold, who has been growing his locs since seventh grade, was recently told that his hair is not in compliance with the 鈥淒ress and Grooming鈥 policy at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas. The policy, as it appears on the school district鈥檚 website, prohibits male students from having hair that extends below the earlobes.

Arnold had previously worn his hair pinned up at school to remain in compliance, but his family said the school district has revised its policy to include more restrictions on hair length.

During his appearance Wednesday on 鈥淭he Ellen DeGeneres Show,鈥 Arnold noted that he has been placed on in-school suspension due to his locs. Since cutting his hair is not a real option for him, the teen said his choices moving forward would be either to remain on in-school suspension or to shift to an alternative school.

DeGeneres teamed up with Alicia Keys to present Arnold with a $20,000 gift during her show.

Last week, shortly after Arnold鈥檚 story emerged, Union tweeted her support for the teenager, telling him to 鈥淜EEP FIGHTING!!!鈥

鈥淭hey truly believe if you stay quiet, they鈥檝e won,鈥 she wrote at the time. 鈥淒on鈥檛 be quiet. Do not let this stand.鈥

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