When the winners of the 2020 Best Short Film (Animated) ended their acceptance speech for their film “Hair Love” on Feb. 9, they gave two special acknowledgments: one to the late Kobe Bryant and one to a teen named DeAndre Arnold.
Arnold has been in the news lately. His Texas high school suspended him because his dreadlocked hair is in violation of the school’s dress code as it relates to male students’ hair lengths, and they are not allowing him to walk at his graduation.
Arnold, who is pictured below, standing between “Hair Love” director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver, was invited to the Oscars as a special guest of the “Hair Love” movie team, along with his mother, Sandy, second from right.
“Hair Love” producers Gabrielle Union and her husband, Dwayne Wade, generously paid for travel and hotel expenses for Arnold and his mom, and Dove covered their tickets, wardrobe, hair and makeup costs.
In their acceptance speech, which you can watch below, Toliver and Cherry talk about making “Hair Love” in order to have more diverse representation in animation and to “normalize black hair.” Cherry also talks about The CROWN Act, which is a bill to prevent discrimination against different hair textures and styles.
“If we can help to get this passed in all 50 states, it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, who is our special guest tonight, stop to happen,” Cherry said.
Before the Oscars, DeArnold’s story brought him to “The Ellen Show,” where he got to speak about how his hair represents his Trinidadian culture.
“My hair is really important to me,” he told DeGeneres. “It’s part of our culture and our heritage. I really wish the school would kind of be open to other cultures and just at least let us try and tell you some things. Don’t shut us out.”
It’s good to see stories like DeAndre’s and films like “Hair Love” getting the recognition they deserve, and raising awareness around the importance of diverse representation.