Gen Z often gets a bad rep for certain things that come to mind when you think of them.
Cut to –
Tide Pods, Bird Box, Tik Tok, etc.
But what people fail to mention that they are also one of the most intellectual, politically conscious, and socially vocal generations to have ever existed. Maybe it’s because their generation is the first one to be constantly exposed to the trials and tribulations of all of mankind whether they want it or not, thanks to social media.
A few popular Gen Z humans are Billie Eilish, Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown, and of course Yara Shahidi.
Stylish, graceful, and incredibly wise beyond her years, Yara Shahidi is one person who is fit to lead the entire generation into utopia.
Oprah has declared her to be “the first female President of the United States of America.”
Trevor Noah introduced her on The Daily Show with the following words, “I’ve met few people in my life who are as enigmatic and amazing as Yara Shahidi is.”
And Jimmy Kimmel who was taken aback by Yara’s intellect and maturity said to her “I’m just trying to imagine myself trying to have a conversation with you when I was 18 and I don’t see it happening at all.”
If you still don’t know who she is, you must – and you have definitely come to the right place.
Don’t let these words of praise intimidate you because when she is not reading books and fighting for education for all or making hit television series and movies, she is just your average 20-year-old who loves posting fun photos and lip-sync videos.
Yara is also a total history geek and loves doing science experiments in her backyard.
She was one of TIME magazine’s 30 most influential teens of 2017.
YARA SHAHIDI FACTS
Yara is Black-ish, Mixed-ish, and Grown-ish.
Yara Shahidi was born on February 10th, 2000 in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States of America. She is an Iranian American on her father’s side and African American on her mother’s side. Her family lived in Minneapolis till she was four years old and then moved to California, for her father to pursue his career.
Her family is an integral part of her life and she credits her strength, confidence, and curiosity to them.
Yara’s father, Afshin Shahidi left Iran when he was only eight years old and came to the U.S. In 1992 while working as a photography director was when he first gazed upon a grad student, Keri Salter, whom he would go on to marry.
“She stalked me,” Yara’s father claims in an interview with Glamour Magazine. A claim which was graciously accepted by Keri.
It would be an understatement to say that the entire family was destined for show business. Afshin Shahidi was Prince’s personal photographer and released a book of images about the icon as well. Keri is an actress who has appeared in multiple commercials.
Yara has two brothers. Sayeed Shahidi, the middle child, has guest-starred in the hit TV show Black-ish and Ehsan Shahidi the youngest was on the People Vs O.J.Simpson: American Crime Story
She says that her family has taught her that “ You can be anything” you set out to be.
Yara is extremely smart and maintained a very impressive 4.6 GPA. She also started attending Harvard University in 2018, and her letter of recommendation was written by my favourite and forever First Lady Michelle Obama.
Yara Shahidi’s Acting Career: First Film, Commercials and More
Yara started acting when she was very young. She was six weeks old when she did her first commercial and by the time she was 9 she has already starred in popular films and television shows.
She has been featured in commercials for The Walt Disney Company, Guess Kids, McDonald’s, and many more.
Yara was first seen on the silver screen on the hit show Entourage in 2007 and then she went to star alongside Eddy Murphy in the beloved father-daughter film Imagine That.
She has even starred on shows such as ‘Cold Case’ and ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’.
Her real claim to fame happened when she was cast as Zoey Johnson in Kenya Barris’s hit show about a black modern family “Black-ish”, where she plays the stylish and cool oldest daughter.
The audience loved her character so much that she even got her own spin-off called Grown-ish, which follows Zoey Johnson as she goes off to college to become a fashion designer and all the experiences she has there.
Yara says she is super grateful for her role as Zoey Johnson because she gets to have the crazy college experience with no repercussions.
Style and Fashion
Yara Shahidi is well-appreciated and adored in the fashion world for her eccentric and classic sense of style.
Her Fashion Advice?
“I do a robot test. If you can’t do the robot in your dress, then it’s either too tight, too short, or too long.” – Yara Shahidi to Glamour Magazine
Shahidi has a knack of making prints, colours and patterns appear ethereal and enchanting. She also doesn’t confine herself to gender norms when it comes to fashion and pulls off clean-cut suits, bowties, and oxfords with ease.
To her credit, she has always maintained that she knows how easy it is to look older than she is and that she wants to dress according to the age that she is.
Yara Shahidi and Activism
Yara Shahidi has said that her biggest achievement would be to develop her own brand of activism.
When she was asked about how she felt putting herself in the forefront of major issues in an interview, Yara said,
“I feel both scared and empowered. So much of my work is as Yara, not as a character. If you’re attacking my work as a philanthropist or activist, you’re attacking Yara. But because of Black-ish and this national audience we have, I get to have a larger or louder voice. One thing I’ve tried to tell my peers is the amount of support that we do have. I feel the impact of my work and don’t feel as though I’m doing it for nothing. Black-ish has amplified the cause and the effect for me”.
Yara has spoken about many major issues that affect people of all races, gender, and from all walks of life. She has actively vocalized her support for the LGBTQIA community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shahidi has also started and partnered up with a number of institutions for causes that she believes in, including the Young Women’s Leadership Network – an initiative that aims to end poverty through education, Eighteen x 18 – an initiative by Yara in collaboration with NowThis to encourage people who have just turned 18 to vote.
Yara Shahidi’s Love for STEM
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is a comprehensive curriculum for schools where academic learning is interwoven with real-world lessons.
To learn more about STEM, click here.
Yara Shahidi is a huge advocate of bringing the STEM system to schools worldwide. She was even part of a panel discussion called “Cracking the Code: Diversity, Hollywood & STEM”, where she joined Amanda Leighton, Omari Christian (Google Engineer), and “Miles from Tomorrowland” creator Sascha Paladino.
She was the only panel member who was currently studying from a STEM curriculum at the time, and was extremely passionate about bringing it to more schools.
Her dream of dreams “is to create some form of alternate curriculum that is inclusive of all people”.
Lessons we can all learn from Yara Shahidi
Own Your Space
“My Metric for Success Is Having an Impact on Something Greater Than Myself.” – Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi has charted her own path from a very young age and passionately affirms that you can be anything you want to be. She has said that she has felt at times while auditioning for roles that people have made her feel that she wasn’t Iranian enough or that she wasn’t black enough, even though she is both.
But her culturally-rooted upbringing and her self confidence have allowed her to stand out and stand in her truth. She continues to share stories about her experiences as a multiracial individual, enthusiastic student, and passionate actor every day, inspiring thousands of people to unapologetically be themselves.
As her mother once Keri Shahidi said in an interview, Yara is an incredibly gracious person. No matter what has happened, she wakes up every day and treats it as a brand new day.
“Life is too long not to make mistakes”.- Yara Shahidi
And even if we do make mistakes, it’s important to forgive ourselves and heal from the past.
This mindset is one that we can all benefit from as it makes it easier to let go of what is holding us back and bring positive energy into our lives.
Preach what You Believe In
Yara is all about standing up for what you believe in and who you believe in. She is the epitome of the phrase ‘you are never too young to make a difference.’ And sometimes you can do that by just being who you are.
Owning yourself and your values and ideals and spreading the word on causes you believe in makes you nothing short of a superhero. You never know who your story could inspire.
Take a page out of Yara’s book and own your individuality and stand up for what you believe in.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
One of the best things about Yara Shahidi that I have come to find after reading up about her extensively is that she possesses a deep sense of self-awareness. It is very common for young actors and artists who have a chance in the spotlight to get swept away by it. But fortunately for us, Yara is not one of those people.
“Teenagers are impressionable”, admits Shahidi. “If we are surrounded by social media, TV shows, and advertisements that falsely portray what life is like, then there is this false expectation of who [we] should be, of what [the world] will be will like when [we teens] grow older.” – Yara Shahidi at the “Cracking the Code: Diversity, Hollywood & STEM” panel discussion.
She is very aware of and grateful for the platform she has been provided and continues to educate and inspire people with her knowledge and wisdom.
With this we come to the end of our post. I had so much fun getting to know more about Yara Shahidi. I hope you did too.
Grown-ish is such a fun entertaining show that I thoroughly enjoy watching and I highly recommend it you are into teen comedy-dramas like me. It also manages to touch upon issues faced by college students in the U.S.
Yara Shahidi is only 20 years old and she is breaking barriers and shifting conversations towards equality and upliftment of all people. I look forward to seeing what she does next.
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