Oscars nominees invite teen suspended for dreadlocks to awards ceremony

DeAndre Arnold, the Texas high school student who was suspended from school and told he would not be able to walk in his graduation ceremony over his dreadlocks, will accompany the team behind the Oscar-nominated short film “Hair Love” to the Academy Awards. 

Matthew A. Cherry, who wrote the book and movie versions of “Hair Love,” and producers NBA player Dwayne Wade and actress Gabrielle Union invited the teen to the ceremony set for Feb. 9, CBS’s “This Morning” reported.

“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,” Cherry said, surprising the teen in a video. 


"We love the way that you carry yourself and we wanted to do something special for you," Wade told Arnold. "You and your mother Sandy are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind 'Hair Love' at the 2020 Academy Awards."

Cherry told the Texas teen that Dove will “provide full wardrobe and glam for the big night” for Arnold and his mother. 

“This is crazy. Like, I never thought that people like D Wade and Gabrielle Union would be like, on my side. The film is about hair love, and me and my hair kind of grew up together in a way. It’s like we’re best friends. It really just means so much that we get a invite like this. It means the world to us, honestly,” Arnold told CBS News.


Cherry said he wants to bring awareness to Arnold’s story and the CROWN Act, legislation that has passed in California, New York, New Jersey and other cities and counties banning discrimination based on a person’s hair.

"Just hearing his 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," Cherry said.

Arnold thanked his mom after receiving the invitation.

"My mom deserves any special treatment she gets. 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," he said. "When you have people like this in your corner, there's no way you can lose. No way."

Arnold’s school, Barbers Hill High School, told the student he would have to cut his hair to participate in graduation later this year. He declined, citing his Trinidadian culture.

Superintendent Greg Poole pushed back earlier this month on criticism that the policy was linked to race, saying, “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair.”

“Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years,” the administrator told KHOU.