A Texas teen may not be able to walk at graduation over refusing to cut his braids, but he is now invited to walk the red carpet at Hollywood’s biggest night as Gabrielle Union’s guest.
Union formally invited DeAndre Arnold to the 2020 Academy Awards on Feb. 9 after news of the student being penalized for his hairstyle garnered national attention. School officials told Arnold, a senior at the public Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, that he will be banned from graduation unless he cuts his hair, citing a dress code policy on hair length limits.
The teen has subsequently received an outpouring of support from Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Keys and Union. Gabrielle Union attends “America’s Got Talent” Season 14 Finale Red Carpet on September 18, 2019 in Hollywood,California. Union invited the student to the Oscars in a video she tweeted. “Hey DeAndre, I’m Gabrielle Union and I am one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated short film ‘Hair Love’.
Since Deandre Arnold’s school didnt want to let him walk at his graduation because of his hair we figured that he should walk with us on the red carpet at the #Oscars as our special guest. Thank you @itsgabrielleu @DwyaneWade & @Dove for their help. pic.twitter.com/RD8cv0iL8G— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) January 31, 2020
‘”Union said in the video, which first aired Friday on CBS This Morning. “When we heard about your story, and you just wanting to wear your hair the way you want, at school, and all this scrutiny that you faced and how unwavering you have been in standing up for yourself, we knew that we had to get involved.”
Union, reports have said, faced “baneful culture” at “America’s Got Talent,” including excessive notes on her appearance prior to her controversial exit. In the videoUnion’s husband, retired basketball star Dwyane Wade, said the couple are “big fans” of Arnold, applauding the way he carried himself through adversity.
“We wanted to do something special for you,” Wade said, revealing an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. “You and your mother, Sandy, are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind ‘Hair Love’ at the 2020 Academy Awards.” Director Matthew Cherry, who also wears braids, called Arnold inspiring. “DeAndre, you’re such a good kid and we’ve all been so inspired by your story. This is the very least we can do for you for standing up for yourself and for your right to wear your natural hair at school,” said Cherry.
@itsgabrielleu & @DwyaneWade are flying Deandre & his family out to LA for the Oscars and taking care of their loding/car service & our partners at @Dove are giving Deandre & his mom the red carpet treatment by taking care of their tickets, wardrobe & glam for the big night. Union and the “Hair Love” team are the latest celebrities to offer support to Arnold.
Earlier this week, DeGeneres and Keys gifted the teen a $20,000 scholarship toward his college tuition on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Keys told Arnold she “couldn’t believe the story when I heard it. I’m super proud of you for standing up for what you know is right. And I know that the school needs to do the right thing.”
DeGeneres also asked school officials to let Arnold return to school.
“I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids,” DeGeneres said. “He’s a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing. Please, change your mind.” DeGeneres tweeted, “DeAndre deserves better.”
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