“Hair Love” director Matthew A. Cherry has brought a special guest to the Oscars red carpet — Deandre Arnold, a Texas high school student who was told he couldn’t attend graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks.
Cherry later took to social media to share what was supposed to be his full acceptance speech:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted Cherry played collegiately at Akron but was undrafted in 2004. He spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.
He notably dedicated the Oscar to the late Kobe Bryant at the end of his speech. The Los Angeles Lakers great also won an Oscar in the best animated short category for his role in Dear Basketball.
Arnold’s story brought national attention and prompted the Texas Legislative Black Caucus to work up a bill that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles commonly associated with race. Cherry was eager to lend his support — his film about a young black girl who asks her inexperienced father to help style her hair is nominated for best animated short.
“It means the world to us to have him here with us,” Cherry said. “We wanted people to see how good of a kid he is, but also there’s no reason people should be policing our hair.”
“I’m standing strong because of the support system I have behind me,” Arnold said.