The High Schooler Who Went Viral for Being Told to Cut His Dreadlocks Attends the 2020 Oscars

Actress Gabrielle Union personally invited high school student DeAndre Arnold to the Oscars. Find out more about his journey to Hollywood's biggest night here.

By McKenna Aiello Feb 10, 2020 1:20 AMTags
Deandre Arnold, Karen Rupert, 2020 Oscars, Academy AwardsVALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Gabrielle Union knows a thing or two about making dreams come true. 

The actress and producer of Oscar-nominated short film Hair Love invited DeAndre Arnold, the teenager who was suspended and told he couldn't attend graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks, to tonight's Academy Awards.

Gabrielle, Dwyane Wade and the team behind Hair Love personally invited the 18-year-old after hearing that administrators at his Texas high school allegedly threatened him over the apparent dress code violation. 

Union reached out via CBS This Morning, sharing in a video, "We love the way that you carry yourself and we wanted to do something special for you. You and your mother Sandy are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind Hair Love at the 2020 Academy Awards." Filmmaker Matthew Cherry also told him, "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." 

Several celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres and Alicia Keys, have voiced their support for DeAndre. He appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the two presented him with a $20,000 college scholarship. 

Oscars 2020 Red Carpet Fashion

DeAndre, who hopes to attend veterinarian school, told Ellen his dreadlocks hold great meaning for his family's heritage.

"It's really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad," he explained at the time. "And I really wish the school would kind of be open to other cultures and just, at least let us try to tell you some things. Don't just shut us out."

In light of the controversy, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus has proposed an act that bans discrimination against natural hairstyles. A spokesperson for the Barbers Hill Independent School District told NBC News that the high school allows dreadlocks but has policies about the length of male students' hair. 

Hair Love follows an African-American father tasked with styling his young daughter's hair for the first time. Back in 2017, Cherry raised $300,000 on Kickstarter to make the short film.