LOS ANGELES — A Mont Belvieu teen suspended for his dreadlocks was invited by the creators of the Oscar-nominated short film, “Hair Love,” to attend the 2020 Academy Awards as their guest. And he got a shout-out when the film won an Oscar.
DeAndre Arnold and his mother walked across the red carpet alongside the cast and crew of the film. Then when "Hair Love" won for Best Animated Short, director Matthew Cherry referred to Arnold, saying he was their special guest, and that he hoped that all 50 states adopt the CROWN Act.
DeAndre Arnold and his mother get surprise invitation
Arnold and his mother Sandy received a call from Matthew A. Cherry and producers, actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, inviting them to the ceremony.
"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."
DeAndre and his mother were also provided with a wardrobe for the evening’s event.
"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 told him.
DeAndre Arnold has been told that he wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation unless he cuts his hair.
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The teen made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres show to talk about the issue.
Arnold and his family addressed the Barbers Hill Independent School District school board in regards to the issue but got nothing resolved.
“I’ve worked for this all my life. ... I deserve this moment to walk across the stage and enter into life. My parents deserve this,” Arnold said.
DeGeneres told Arnold that she didn't understand why his school wasn't allowing him to walk because of the length of his hair, especially because girls are allowed to have long hair at the school.
“But are there girls in your school,” DeGeneres asked. “Do the girls have long hair?”
“There’s plenty of girls with long hair at my school. Like, if girls can have long hair why can’t I have long hair?” DeAndre said.
“That’s my point. That’s what I don’t understand,” DeGeneres replied.
Arnold hasn't been to school for a couple of weeks because he refuses to cut his hair. He told DeGeneres if he was to return to school he would either have to do in-school suspension or go to an alternative school, which is a program for students with behavioral issues.
Barbers Hill ISD’s policy states male students can’t have long hair, specifically past the earlobe.
Arnold said the biggest reason why he refuses to cut his hair is that his locks are a representation of his Trinidadian culture.
Arnold said he really wants to walk across the stage at graduation, not only because he feels he deserves it, but because it would be an exciting moment for his parents.
Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys surprised him with a $20,000 check to go towards his college tuition.
Arnold said he wants to go to school to be a veterinarian.
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