Gabrielle Union Invites High School Student Who Refused to Cut His Dreadlocks to the Oscars
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The actress wants to celebrate "how unwavering you have been in standing up for yourself."

The teen from Texas who gained national attention for refusing to cut his dreadlocks prior to walking at his high school graduation is getting ready to walk the 2020 Academy Awards red carpet with Gabrielle Union.

Deandre Arnold, a senior in Mont Belvieu, Texas, said school officials told him he couldn't return to school following his suspension or walk graduation with his class until he cut his hair, which he was told violated the school's dress code. Despite attending a board meeting in January to protest the haircut request, the school would not budge. Deandre said in interviews he's been wearing his dreadlocks since seventh grade.

So after hearing of Arnold's story, Union, husband Dwyane Wade and the other producers of the Oscar-nominated short film, "Hair Love," decided to invite him and his family to join them in celebrating hair love at the Oscars.

Deandre got the news via surprise video messages from Gabrielle and Dwyane, as "CBS Good Morning" captured the moment. He and his mother, Sandy, were invited as the team's official guests.

"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 in school," said director Matthew A. Cherry in the video.

He also wrote on Twitter, "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. @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."

"Hair Love" tells the story of a Black father who learns how to do his daughter's hair for the first time. "Hair is such an intimate thing, especially if somebody is doing your hair," Cherry, who was joined by Union and Wade, explained on "Good Morning America."

Looking at Deandre, Gabrielle added, "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. 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."

"We love the way that you carry yourself," Wade noted, "and we wanted to do something special for you."

The Oscars airs Feb. 9 on ABC.

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