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'Hair Love’ wins Best Animated Short Film, highlights Houston-area student at the center of the dreadlocks controversy

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: US director Matthew A. Cherry (2nd L) US producer Karen Rupert Toliver (3rd R) and Deandre Arnold (3rd L), the Texas teen who was told his dreadlocks violated school dress code, attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: US director Matthew A. Cherry (2nd L) US producer Karen Rupert Toliver (3rd R) and Deandre Arnold (3rd L), the Texas teen who was told his dreadlocks violated school dress code, attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage) (2020 Steve Granitz)

The conversation about hair discrimination and the need to pass the CROWN Act was center stage at the Oscars.

“Hair Love,” won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film Sunday. The film documents a black man who tries to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

During their acceptance speech, filmmakers Matthew Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver spoke about the importance of representation in media. They also called for a national passage of the CROWN Act, which ensures protection against discrimination based on hairstyles.

“It was a labor of love because we have a firm belief that representation matters deeply,” Toliver said.

Cherry highlighted the story of Deandre Arnold, a Houston-area teen who refused to cut his dreadlocks after Barbers Hill ISD changed the district’s dress code. Arnold was invited to the Oscars by the “Hair Love” team.

“We wanted to normalize black hair. There is a very important issue that is out there, the CROWN Act,” Cherry said. “If we can help get this pass in all 50 states, it will help stories like Deandre Arnold, who is our special guest tonight, stop happening.”

Arnold and his mother Sandy also met the film’s producers, actress Gabrielle Union and husband and NBA star Dwayne Wade, during the awards weekend. Dove provided Arnold and his mother a full wardrobe and glam.

The Oscar invitation is among the latest positive reactions from celebrities, who supports Arnold’s decision not to cut his hair. Alicia Keys recently presented the teen with a $20,000 scholarship on the Ellen show.

Here are photos and videos from the Oscars weekend:


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