ABC/Lou RoccoA teen who garnered national attention after refusing to cut his dreadlocks to follow his school’s dress code will now walk the Oscars red carpet with actress Gabrielle Union.
Deandre Arnold, a senior in Mont Belvieu, Texas, said school officials told him he couldn’t return or walk at graduation until he cut his long dreadlocks. Arnold, his family members and activists attended a school board meeting in January to protest the haircut request. Arnold remains suspended.
In support to the graduating teen, Dwyane Wade and Union, who’s one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated short film Hair Love, invited Arnold to the 2020 Academy Awards after hearing his story.
Matthew A. Cherry, Hair Love‘s writer and co-director, also announced via Twitter that Arnold and his family will be flown out to Los Angeles for Oscars night with Wade and Union taking care of their lodging and car service.
In a video, Cherry, Union and Wade addressed Arnold and delivered the news of his Oscars invite.
“When we heard about this amazing story of a young black father with long, beautiful locks just trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair, we knew that we had to support any way we could,” Union said, drawing parallels between Arnold’s story and Hair Love, which tells the story of a father who learns how to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.
Union went on, “The same way as when we heard about your story and you just wanting to wear your hair the way you want at school, and all the scrutiny you face and how unwavering you have been in standing up for yourself.”
The Oscars airs Sunday, February 9 on ABC.
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