Yara Shahidi is the ultimate millennial. She’s smart, funny, and speaks up about the issues that impact people who look and feel the same way she does. Since stealing our hearts as Zoey in ABC’s Black-ish, she’s been nearly unstoppable. And at the tender age of seventeen she’s only just begun what will be a long journey of success.
Yara began her career at six weeks old–starring in print and commercial ads. At age seven, she received her first movie script for Imagine That as Eddie Murphy’s daughter, Olivia. This led her to roles in two other movies before her move to television.
Her additional successes include the honor of winning a NAACP award for best supporting actress, as well as acceptance letters from every college she applied–thanks to a little help from First Lady, Michelle Obama. Not to mention, she’ll be starring in her very own spin-off centered around her Black-ish character’s college years, all while attending college herself.
During the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency, Yara made headlines after speaking out against the widely controversial travel ban that targeted Muslim countries. Her identity as a Black-Iranian was put on the forefront, and she gave her own personal perspective on the ban, stating:
I am the result of love. More specifically, Black and Iranian love. Of Shia love, of Christian love, of American love, of a love that highlights how interconnected we truly are. If my Baba was stuck in an airport because of a Muslim ban 39 years ago, he would have never fallen in love with my mama. I would not exist and I wouldn’t have two amazing brothers. […] Immigrants don’t threaten safety – stereotypical narratives that promote hate do.
Last June, she spoke on the importance of representation in media, where she expresses the power of activism through art.
As you watch Black-ish, you are witnessing the constant conversation and work we put into the blossoming and development of my character Zoey. She is my activism through art. She is an angsty, rebellious teen, entrepreneurial at heart, academically astute, and the thread that ties her family together. It is through my character and characters like her that the barriers that racism, ageism, sexism, and other -isms can be broken down.”
Yara Shahidi is one of the most refreshing faces of young Hollywood. Watch the rest of her speech at the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service to have your mind blown by this phenomenal young woman!