Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver’s critically acclaimed Hair Love just won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 92nd Oscars.
The film, which depicts a Black father who attempts to style his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time and relays the positivity of embracing African American hair, beat out Dcera (Daughter), Kitbull, Memorable, and Sister.
During his acceptance speech, Cherry shouted out DeAndre Arnold, a Texas high school student who was suspended and told he couldn’t graduate until he cut his locs, and implored everyone to love the hair they were born with.
"Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize Black hair," he said while accepting the award. “There’s a very important issue that’s out there – the CROWN Act – and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states it’ll help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, who’s our special guest tonight, stop to happen.”
Cherry also honored Kobe Bryant during the speech.
“This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant," he said. "May we all have a second act as great as his was. Thank you.”
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On the red carpet, DeAndre Arnold was spotted with the Hair Love team. Cherry tweeted out a photo, which also included some other luminaries.
“Great times at our #HairLove pre-Oscar dinner sponsored by @Dove. We showed Deandre and his family a lot of love. Thanks for coming through Senator @HollyJMitchell, @DwyaneWade & @itsgabrielleu. Can’t wait for tomorrow. #Oscars."
Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas has been under scrutiny after insisting the 18-year-old to cut off his locs because of an alleged “dress code” policy. The school is attempting to ban him from prom and not allow him to graduate in June all because of his natural hair.
The school district released a statement earlier this month. "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," Superintendent Greg Poole said, according to KHOU 11. "Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."
According to Arnold’s mother, Sandy Arnold, the dress code of “off the shoulders, above the earlobes, and out of the eyes” changed just recently.
Congratulations to Matthew Cherry, Karen Rupert Toliver and everyone who worked on the film.