LOS ANGELES — Before his “Hair Love” won an Oscar on Sunday, director Matthew A. Cherry knew he was going to be there.
Calling it out almost eight years ago, he tweeted “I'm gonna be nominated for an Oscar one day. Already claiming it.”
"'Hair Love' was done because we want to see more representation in animation" Cherry said on stage while holding the trophy. "We wanted to normalize black hair."
Cherry also brought a special guest to the red carpet — Deandre Arnold, the Texas high school student who was told he couldn’t attend graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks.
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 is about a young black girl who asks her inexperienced father to help style her hair.
“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.”
Arnold said it’s been “validating” to get backing from Cherry and other celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, who gifted him $20,000 toward his education.
“I’m standing strong because of the support system I have behind me,” Arnold said.
Cherry, who in an interview with WKYC this past week cited basketball legend and fellow Oscar winner Kobe Bryant as an influence, also dedicated his win to the "Black Mamba." Bryant, his daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash two weeks ago today.
"May we all have a second act as great as his was," Cherry said.
You can watch "Hair Love" in its entirety below:
The Associated Press contributed.