Yara Shahidi, teen princess Zoey Johnson on Black-ish, is unquestionably a true Renaissance young woman, managing her busy schedule, keeping up with women double her age. Sitting down to talk with her, one tends to forget how young she really is. The starlet has been in the Hollywood limelight since she was a baby doing commercial and print work. He first project was at six weeks old for an insurance company. This might explain why Shahidi is one of the most enlightened people in Tinseltown and is only sixteen-years old.
Shahidi, half African-American and half Iranian, is committed to using her position in Hollywood to speak-out against gender and color bias, all while filming her hit ABC tv show, participating in philanthropic work, and studying Calculus. “There are so many roles where you have to fight to even be seen. And it’s insane that you have to say, ‘Hey, people care enough about me to go see a movie starring me. People care enough to see me on the cover of a magazine.’ But you’re not doing me a favor by checking off some diversity box when you cast one person. It’s about honestly saying, ‘We’re going to look at everyone as equals and understand the inherent disadvantages that minorities have, because we didn’t all start on the same playing field,’” the young actress comments in an interview with TheCut. “My race is a huge part in forming who I am, and it gave me this rich heritage that I am grateful for, but there needs to be an understanding that you cannot then put me in certain boxes, or tell me what I can and cannot do — or what my peers can and cannot do — based on these pieces of identity.”
As a high school senior, Shahidi is very involved in her education. Currently in the process of applying to college, she is open about her school being a priority in her life. “I feel like my love for acting hasn’t been singular,” she comments in the interview, “because it stems from this idea of my love of learning people in general.”
In the interview with TheCut, Shahidi goes on to discuss being an African-American role model, natural hair, and her interaction with television mom, Traci Ellis Ross. To read the remainder of Shahidi’s interview, visit NyMag. It is no doubt that Yara Shahidi’s star will only get brighter.