The team behind the Oscar-nominated animated short, Hair Love, are walking in the spirit of the film by inviting a Texas teen who was suspended for his dreadlocks to the prestigious award show next Sunday. DeAndre Arnold, a high school student who was suspended and told he wouldn’t be permitted to attend his graduation ceremony in the spring unless he cut off his dreadlocks, got the invite from Hair Love’s director, Matthew A. Cherry, along with producers Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. “We love the way that you carry yourself and we wanted to do something special for you,” Dwyane told the teen, who received a wave of support from the public following the injustice he faced. “You and your mother Sandy are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind Hair Love at the 2020 Academy Awards.”
“We’ve all been so inspired by your story and this is the very least we can do to thank you for standing up for yourself and for your right to wear your natural hair at school,” Matthew told him. The Oscar-nominated director told “CBS This Morning” that “just hearing [DeAndre’s] story, it really just represented everything we were trying to do with the short film, Hair Love. We really wanted to just normalize black hair, normalize us.” Matthew is also using DeAndre’s story to shed light on the CROWN Act, which bans the discrimination of people based on their hair. He believes that the act, which has passed in California, New York and New Jersey, should be nationwide. “If this law was in Texas, this situation with DeAndre wouldn’t happen,” he said.
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As for DeAndre, finding out that he was invited to the Oscars was a “surreal moment.” “It’s hard to take in,” he said. “I’ve got excitement and then it’s just like, ‘Is this really happening? Am I in a dream?’…it blows my mind that people that have so much voice, they’re on my side and they’re with me. I love that. I appreciate that. I really do.” The teen was especially thrilled for his mom, who has been fighting by his side to get his story out. “My mom deserves any special treatment she gets,” he said. “She deserves this. She’s been working so hard, on the computer day and night, just to try and help me get my word out. When you have people like this in your corner, there’s no way you can lose. No way.” Matthew revealed that both DeAndre and Sandy will be “provide[d] full wardrobe and glam for the big night.” The Oscars take place Sunday, February 9th.
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