Cherry and Gabrielle Union, who produced the Oscar-nominated animated short “Hair Love,” along with beauty brand Dove, invited Arnold and his mother, Sandy, to the Oscars after his story went viral. Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, made national news when he was sent to in-school suspension and told he would not be able to walk at graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks to meet the dress code. His family and members of the Black Lives Matter organization attended a school board meeting, but were unable to voice their disagreement with the dress code when the board members chose not to bring up the topic at all.
Dove sponsored his tickets to the Oscars and paid for his wardrobe, as well as hair and makeup for his family, while Union and Dwyane Wade sponsored the family’s travel and hotel.
Arnold’s story quickly garnered support from celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, who invited him on her talk show, where he was given $20,000 by Alicia Keys. Dove tweeted its support for Arnold with the hashtag #IStandWithDeandre “as proud supporters of the CROWN Act,” which stands against discrimination based on hairstyles.
As Variety previously reported, Union was booted as a judge from “America’s Got Talent” after apparently complaining about a toxic work environment. Sources said Union received multiple complaints that her hairstyles were “too black” for the “AGT” audience before she was fired, and her exit has prompted an internal investigation at the reality competition series.